NFR not likely to ride into sunrise

Call it rank speculation from the edge of the arena, but it’s hard to believe the PRCA won’t make a counteroffer that enables the National Finals Rodeo to remain in Las Vegas.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is due to deliver its counteroffer to Las Vegas Events on Jan. 14. The rodeo organization has been very publicly wooed by business interests in Orlando, Fla.

While we’re on the subject, it’s also hard to imagine throngs of rodeo fans, most of them from west of the Mississippi, making the sojourn all the way to Orlando to take part in the NFR party atmosphere. One Las Vegas rodeo insider estimates that 80 percent of contestants and visitors during the NFR live in the West.

Although it gets little press during the organized chaos of rodeo week, Las Vegas attracts many thousands of rodeo fans who stay several days but only have tickets for one night of the event. They watch the action on closed-circuit or catch the highlights between trips to the dance hall, Cowboy Christmas or casino floor.

With this week’s announcement that several top performers intend to break away from the PRCA and rope their own organization, it might sound like an ideal time for a local group to invite them to base their operations in Las Vegas. Don’t expect it to happen.

The news, reported in Wednesday’s Review-Journal, comes in the wake of the PRCA’s Orlando announcement. For the past three decades, Las Vegas has celebrated the December arrival of the NFR and played the gracious host to the 10-day event.

Although one of the PRCA defectors is Trevor Brazile, who holds ultimate rock star status in the sport as an 11-time all-around champion, it remains uncertain whether a fledgling organization can draw enough top qualifiers to make it viable on a national tour level. PRCA events are ubiquitous throughout the West.

Those top rodeo stars might have overplayed their hand with the PRCA. The rodeo organization might have done the same thing with Las Vegas, which spent several years marketing the event before it became the big winner everyone knows today.

CENTER CELEBRATION: The Rape Crisis Center continues to do essential work in our community as it celebrates its 40th year of service with its first Healing Hearts Run/Walk. The event is set for Feb. 15 at Sunset Park.

For registration information, and to learn how to donate to the charity that provides a hotline for rape and abuse victims, go to rcclv.org. The hotline number is 366-1640.

ON THE BOULEVARD: “Confessions of a Guerrilla Writer,” investigative reporter and author Dan Moldea’s entertaining memoir, should be read by every sports bettor just for its chapter on the NFL’s response to the author’s book on professional football, “Interference.” … Pia Zadora’s professional stylings have fast become the highlight of a visit to Piero’s, which usually gets slammed during the Consumer Electronics Show. … Services for Big John Woodrum, former owner of the diminutive Klondike Casino on the Strip, were held Thursday. Fittingly, those who gathered to bid farewell to the colorful Woodrum did so at a place the avid golfer liked to commune with nature, the Dragon Ridge Golf Club. Look for more on Woodrum’s life in an upcoming column.

BOULEVARD II: UNLV’s School of Nursing is ranked in the top 10 percent of online graduate degrees, according to U.S. News &World Report’s annual compilation. … Wally Backman, who helped fire up the Las Vega 51s last season, will be back in 2014. … Valley High graduate Greg Maddux, one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, accepted this week’s Hall of Fame selection with his trademark Gary Cooper understatement. Then again, 355 career wins and four Cy Young Awards pretty much speaks for itself.

Have an item for Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295.