Historically Tijuana has grown by offering U.S. citizens that which they couldn't get at home.
Agua Caliente Racetrack opened in 1916 just a year after the U.S. outlawed horse racing. Later Prohibition was instituted and the Agua Caliente Casino opened, complete with an underground tunnel connecting it to the race track.
The dirt road from Los Angeles to Tijuana, which was part of the Camino Real, became the solution for those folks who wanted to gamble and have a drink.
In 1947 the Jai Alai court was opened and looking at the Moorish style building now, it is easy to see that by this time in Tijuana's development, there was a clientele to impress and money to carry it out with.
Looking around the city, other interesting architecture can be seen. Some of it is surprising, but not usually noticed or appreciated.
ok first a jai alai short info. Jai Alai is not a mexican sport! the game originated from the basque region of spain in the 1300's and the basque soldiers of the spanish conquistadors introduced the game in every spanish colony that they were assigned and it became popular especially in latin american countries and also in my native philippines (was also a spanish colony for 400 years). the players are called pelotaris and the hardcourt is called a pelota court. the pelora court consists of 3 walls (front, back, and left), and the floor between them in play. If the ball (called a "pelota") touches the floor outside these walls, it is considered out of bounds. Similarly, there is also a border on the lower 3 ft (about 1 m) of the front wall that is also out of bounds. The ceiling on the court is usually very high, so the ball has a more predictable path. The court is divided by 14 parallel lines going horizontally across the court, with line 1 closest to the front wall and line 14 the back wall. In doubles, each team consists of a frontcourt player and a backcourt player. The game begins when the frontcourt player of the first team serves the ball to the second team. The winner of each point stays on the court to meet the next team in rotation. Losers go to the end of the line to await another turn on the court. The first team to score 7 points (or 9 in Superfecta games) wins. The next highest scores are awarded "place" (second) and "show" (third) positions, respectively. Playoffs decide tied scores.
A jai alai game is played in round robin format, usually between eight teams of two players each or eight single players. The first team to score 7 or 9 points wins the game. Two of the eight teams are in the court for each point. The server on one team must bounce the ball behind the serving line, then with the cesta "basket" hurl it towards the front wall so it bounces from there to between lines 4 and 7 on the floor. The ball is then in play. The ball used in Jai Alai consists of metal strands tightly wound together and then wrapped in goat skin.
Teams alternate catching the ball in their cesta and throwing it "in one fluid motion" without holding or juggling it. The ball must be caught either on the fly or after bouncing once on the floor. A team scores a point if an opposing player:
fails to serve so the ball bounces between lines 4 and 7 on the floor
fails to catch the ball on the fly or after one bounce
holds or juggles the ball
hurls the ball out of bounds
interferes with a player attempting to catch and hurl the ball
The team scoring a point remains in the court and the opposing team rotates off the court to the end of the list of opponents. Points usually double after the first round of play, once each team has played at least one point.
The players frequently attempt a "chula" shot, where the ball is played off the front wall very high, then reaches the bottom of the back wall by the end of its arc. The bounce off the bottom of the back wall can be very low, and the ball is very difficult to return in this situation.
Since there is no wall on the right side, all jai alai players must play right-handed (wear the cesta on their right hand). jai alai became famous since you can bet on who will win on off fronton betting stations, similar to greyhound racing so this game is popular here.
Jai Alia is a game similar to raquet ball that was once very popular in Mexico. This former gym is one of TJ's landmarks. Today its used for concerts, Luche Libre (Mexican pro wrestling) and other events.
Jai Lai....or whatever it's called is a cool sport to watch. These dudes in cricket outfits with large wangs on their arms throw these balls around this large room - at really high speeds and stuff. Makes about as much sense to be as cricket. But it's cool to watch.
I recommend checking it out, even if for just 15mins or so.
A good place to visit is "Jai Alai" located in Ave. Revolution,
for those sports lovers this will be agreat experience.
Fronton Palacio Tijuana Jai Alai is the only fronton that lets amateurs practice on the same court where the pros play.
Avenida Revolucion is the most visited part of the city by tourist, some come to shop 'bargains' that are more expensive than in the rest of the Mexico, but for some people is the easiest way to get some handmade stuff. IMHO somethings are too fishy but I respect your preferences. It's full of bars, restaurants, discos, table dances and similars, but usually at nights and weekends are crowded.
In the corner of Ave. Revolución and 8th Street you can find a building named 'Jai Alai', where you can see one of the fastest sports called 'Pelota Vasca', it's an embleme of this part of Tijuana.
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