The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association on Tuesday submitted a counteroffer to Las Vegas Events regarding the future of the prized National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas after 2014, with the Las Vegas Events board planning to meet on Thursday to start evaluating the proposed deal.
But “there is … no set timeline for a response,” said Michael Mack, spokesman for Las Vegas Events, the NFR event organizer.
The PRCA, the sanctioning body that oversees the NFR, presented the counter offer to Las Vegas Events nearly a month after its board voted 6-3 to reject the LVE 10-year offer. The PRCA then voted on Dec. 15 to make the counteroffer. Its terms were not divulged Tuesday.
Las Vegas Events had submitted the $15-million-a-year proposal to the PRCA in hopes of keeping the popular rodeo event in Las Vegas after 2014, the final year of a deal between Las Vegas Events and the PRCA. LVE is the nonprofit, event-organizing and promotional arm of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. It markets and promotes the NFR.
The 10-day rodeo — considered the Super Bowl of rodeos — has been staged in Las Vegas for the past 29 years and pumps $60 million a year into the local economy at a time when tourism slows in Las Vegas in early December.
The Las Vegas Events board will have a big decision to make on the counteroffer. It’s competing with not only Osceola County in Central Florida to host the NFR, but also with Dallas, where NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have expressed support for the Lone Star State to host the NFR.
Both the Osceola County and Dallas offers are more lucrative than the Las Vegas offer, which included a $6.2 million purse for the NFR cowboy contestants.
When the PRCA board rejected the LVE offer, Osceola County Commissioners outside Orlando in Central Florida held a rare Sunday meeting to approve an NFR bid that is offering about $10 million more in prize money to the NFR contestants than what Las Vegas Events is offering.
During this past weekend, PRCA officials were touring Central Florida, while PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman met with Perry in Texas last week.
Osceola County’s offer also includes a 24,000-seat arena and several million dollars in marketing a year.
Las Vegas Events officials and PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Osceola County Chairman Fred Hawkins said on Tuesday the competition to host the national rodeo event is a three-way battle between his county, Dallas and Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas is still in play. I’m not going to rule out anybody. Every place has its good points,” Hawkins said Tuesday.
“The PRCA has a big decision to make,” Hawkins said. “They have a lot of information to sort through.”
The PRCA, based in Colorado Springs, Colo, is also dealing with a revolt by its premier cowboy contestants led by superstar all-around world champion Trevor Brazile.
A group of top NFR contestants this month signed a statement saying the premier cowboys are leaving the PRCA to start their own rodeo organization because they believe they don’t have enough of a say in the PRCA’s decisions.
If the PRCA moves the National Finals Rodeo from Las Vegas, Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson said LVE would launch a new rodeo during the same 10-day period of the NFR.
LVE might have a pool of talented cowboys to tap for a rival, nonsanctioned rodeo if the contestants leave the PRCA. The World Series of Team Roping, which pays $7 million to its competitors, would stay in Las Vegas if the NFR leaves. Professional Bull Riding, started by former PRCA members who left the organization, is also staged in Las Vegas. It’s usually held a few weeks before the NFR.
The NFR is more than just a sporting event in Las Vegas, where Thomas & Mack Center is packed nightly and sells more than 175,000 tickets for the 10 days. The city, from downtown to the Strip’s southern end, celebrates cowboy culture with music, retail shows and NFR watch parties.
Business writer Alan Snel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow Snel on Twitter at @BicycleManSnel.