Music News

Tempe Music Venue Shady Park Has Lost Its Noise-Dispute Case Against Mirabella at ASU

The exterior of Shady Park in Tempe. Mirabella at ASU is in the background.
The exterior of Shady Park in Tempe. Mirabella at ASU is in the background. Benjamin Leatherman

Almost 10 months after popular Tempe music venue Shady Park announced that it was in a dispute with its across-the-street neighbors, senior community Mirabella at ASU, about noise levels, the judge in a lawsuit Mirabella brought against the venue has ruled against Shady Park.

Shady Park announced the news yesterday on social media.

"With a heavy heart, we have surprising and devastating news to report: the judge in our February trial against the ASU retirement home has just ruled in their favor. This ruling will force Shady Park to cease all live music operations immediately, as the restrictions mandated make it impossible for us to hold live music events."

Though the venue said it plans to appeal the ruling, it added that if it is upheld, "Shady Park will likely be forced to close its doors to so many of our friends, family, and staff members."

In his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Brad Astrowsky wrote that noise complaints against Shady Park were not limited to Mirabella residents, and cited testimony from ASU students and guests at nearby hotels that they found the music coming from the venue to be disruptive.

click to enlarge The outdoor bar park at Shady Park before the new structure was added. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
The outdoor bar park at Shady Park before the new structure was added.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
The public first heard of a dispute between Mirabella and Shady Park in June 2021, when the venue posted on its social media, "A few weeks ago, some of [Mirabella's] residents began a coordinated, aggressive campaign to attempt to force the City of Tempe to shut down live music at Shady Park."

In July, Shady Park paused operations to add sound-reduction measures to the property, including a step-pyramid roof. The venue reopened in September.

But the soundproofing didn't do the trick, according to Mirabella residents and Astrowsky's ruling.

"No credible evidence was presented to support the conclusion that the installation of the canopy had any impact on mitigating the volume and bass emanating from Shady Park," he wrote. "To the contrary, the testimony of Mirabella residents, residents of neighboring apartments, and guests and management of neighboring hotels strongly suggests that the canopy had little-to-no impact on noise and bass levels."

In October, Mirabella filed a lawsuit with the Maricopa County Superior Court in which it requested an injunction to prohibit Shady Park from playing music at a level that "exceeds Tempe’s community standard."

Shady Park's attempts to get the case dismissed in January 2022 were unsuccessful, and the trial began in February.

Mirabella at ASU issued a statement after the ruling was announced.

"We appreciate and respect the Maricopa County Superior Court’s time and decision in favor of Mirabella at ASU and its residents. This ruling provides relief to Mirabella residents and the surrounding community who have been harmed by Shady Park’s excessive noise," the statement read. "Our residents are an important part of the vibrant and growing downtown Tempe community and appreciate its culture and energy, but simply wish to enjoy their community without unreasonable disruption. We hope the court’s ruling results in peaceful coexistence moving forward and a celebration of a community that is inclusive and respectful of all."

So for now, Shady Park is ceasing operations, but the venue is looking ahead to the appeals process.

"We remain hopeful that the court system will correct this injustice and that our appeal will allow us to once again host live music and provide a bit of joy and happiness to thousands of people every week."
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.