The tower hides only an indoor staircase that now leads nowhere, but longtime Tucsonans remember it as home to a ride down a tube full of water on many a hot summer day.

Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star

Drive into town from Phoenix and you're greeted near the Ina Road exit with a barren brick tower that juts out at the top, draped with a "SPORTSPARK" sign.

Those who grew up in the area look upon the tower with fond memories, remembering the years when it served as an indoor staircase to three enclosed water slides called hydrotubes. Everyone else drives by and sees the ugliest, least economically designed billboard ever.

Those who long for the tubes still can find them at Marana's Breakers Water Park, 8555 W. Tangerine Road, where they've been since April 1996, when Sportspark - losing money on the hydrotubes operation - sold the 1,110 feet of tubing to its former rival.

The tower stands in limbo. Mike Bregante, assistant general manager of Championship Sports, which operates the athletic facilities at what is now called Mike Jacob Sports Park, said Pima County did not cede control of the tower to the company, although it's open to ideas on how to use the space.

George Kuck, operations manager for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, said there are no immediate plans to do anything with the tower, and no one has called the county about the tower in years.

When interviewed about the tower, Kuck asked what this story was about, and was told it's for a column about strange, inexplicable things around town.

"Yeah, I guess that would fit the bill," Kuck said of the tower. He suggested that it probably will be demolished at some point.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or