National Finals Rodeo Bucks Las Vegas, Moving to Texas for 2020 Championship

Posted on: September 10, 2020, 12:02h. 

Last updated on: September 10, 2020, 09:55h.

The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is moving to Arlington, Texas, for its 2020 championship, the first time it will be held outside Las Vegas since 1985.

National Finals Rodeo NFR Las Vegas
The National Finals Rodeo is leaving Las Vegas for Texas. (Image: LE Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) continues to maintain emergency orders prohibiting large gatherings, including fans at indoor live sporting events. That’s prompted the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) to temporarily relocate the December 3-12 championship to the Lone Star State.

Globe Life Field, the new $1.1 billion, 40,300-seat home of the Texas Rangers MLB team, will welcome the “Super Bowl of rodeo.” The venue has a retractable roof.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is allowing sports stadiums to be occupied up to 50 percent of their total capacity, indoor and outdoor. That’s something Sisolak isn’t permitting.

This event belongs in Texas!” Abbott tweeted.

The National Finals Rodeo is the PRCA’s premier rodeo event. Running 10 days, with 10 events, the title of “World Champion” is on the line.

Seats inside Globe Life Field will be sold in blocks of four, with separation between groups. Contact-limiting procedures, including mobile tickets, a no-bag policy, and metal detector screenings will be utilized.

Texas-Sized Event 

The National Finals Rodeo has been held at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center for the past 24 years. The series typically sells out the 17,000-seat arena for 10 consecutive nights.

The National Finals Rodeo skipping Las Vegas is the latest blow to Southern Nevada’s economy. COVID-19 has canceled all summer and fall 2020 conventions and exhibitions. The Las Vegas Raiders will play their first season at Allegiant Stadium without fans, and general visitor numbers remain low.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) estimates the NFR has a roughly $200 million economic impact each year, as attendees book hotel rooms, dine, shop, and gamble. “There is no single event that has a bigger impact on Las Vegas than the National Finals Rodeo,” opined Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson.

Rodeo officials said they considered holding the Finals in Las Vegas without fans. But since much of the prize pool is generated by ticket sales, it simply didn’t make financial sense. Even at 50 percent occupancy, Globe Life is capable of holding more spectators than Thomas & Mack.

Nonetheless, the NFR says it will return to Las Vegas for its 2021 championship.

Rodeo Popularity

Rodeo remains relatively confined to the western and midwest regions of the United States.

For elite competitors, rodeos can bring in a lucrative living. PRCA champions can earn upwards of $400,000 per year, plus large sponsorship deals.

Five-time World Title Champion bull rider Sage Kimzey become PRCA’s youngest millionaire in history in 2016 when at the age of 22, his career winnings surpassed seven digits. Last year, Kimzey finished the season with a record of $480,797 in earnings.