These have been busy days for the nine-member governing board of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the organization that sanctions the popular National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Not only is the PRCA board mulling whether to keep the NFR in Las Vegas or move it to Central Florida after this year, now the board is coping with an insurrection from big-name cowboy contestants who say they are defecting because the board rejected their request for more of a say on PRCA matters.
On Tuesday night, the PRCA presented its side of the story.
The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based association explained in the statement that 11 cowboy contestants asked the PRCA board last Saturday to add and amend 18 bylaws, including adding contestant board seats and addressing eligibility rules for the NFR.
But the PRCA board members had some issues with the cowboys’ requests, the PRCA statement said.
The board members expressed concerns about voting on all 18 bylaw changes without vetting the requests, according to the PRCA statement. The board members requested more time to research the cowboys’ proposal.
But, according to the PRCA statement, the group of top contestants denied the request for more time to research the proposal.
“In the interest of serving all 6,000-plus PRCA members and the entire sport of professional rodeo, the PRCA Board requested additional time to research and carefully consider all requests from the contestant group, but the 11 contestants denied that request,” the statement said.
The contestants who came armed with the proposed changes saw it differently. The cowboys — led by rodeo star Trevor Brazile, the 11-time world all-around champion — said the PRCA board rejected their changes.
And in response, the contestants signed a statement posted Monday on Facebook saying they are creating a new rodeo cowboy organization.
If the top cowboys leave the PRCA, it’s unclear how the rodeo association would continue running the NFR without the premier performers.
But the PRCA board is forging ahead. It will decide whether it will keep the NFR in Las Vegas after 29 years, or move it to Osceola County outside Orlando starting in 2015.
Las Vegas Events, the nonprofit organization that partners with the PRCA on the 10-day rodeo event in Las Vegas every December, gave PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman until Jan. 14 to submit a counteroffer. The PRCA board, on Dec. 15, rejected a LVE offer and voted to continue negotiating with the counteroffer.
The NFR is the Super Bowl of rodeos, drawing the top 15 cowboys in seven different rodeo events to the Thomas & Mack Center. The NFR sells out the UNLV arena, with thousands of other rodeo fans attending watch parties at hotels across Las Vegas. The 10-day NFR pumps $60 million of annual spending into the Las Vegas economy at a time when the tourist business slows down in December.
Reporter Alan Snel can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.