The National Finals Rodeo will remain in Las Vegas through 2024 after Las Vegas Events and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association reached agreement on a new 10-year contract Friday.
The agreement ends a flirtation by the PRCA, the sanctioning body that oversees the NFR, with Orlando, Fla., and Dallas.
Both cities had been looking to grab the 10-day event — considered the Super Bowl of rodeos — away from Las Vegas, where it has been for 29 years.
In December, commissioners in Osceola County, near Orlando in central Florida, at a rare Sunday meeting approved an NFR bid that offered about $10 million more in prize money than what Las Vegas Events had offered.
In Dallas, Mark Cuban, owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed interest in having the rodeo move to the Lone Star State.
Officials in Orlando and Dallas were told of the new contract with Las Vegas.
“In a way, we’re not too surprised,” Osceola County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins said Friday. “We knew the PRCA was going to continue to work with Las Vegas, and we knew there was a long relationship there.”
After more than a month of negotiations, which included Strip casinos representatives and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a deal was reached. Last week, the PRCA submitted a counteroffer to Las Vegas Events.
The boards of both Las Vegas Events and the PRCA voted unanimously to accept the new deal.
Losing the rodeo, which pumps $60 million a year into the local economy at a time when tourism slows in early December, would have been a major blow to Las Vegas.
“Since 1985, more than 1 million visitors have traveled to the world’s premier destination to experience the energy and excitement of two great brands — Las Vegas and NFR,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter said in a statement. “This new agreement will ensure NFR and its loyal fans will be back to Las Vegas for another decade of unrivaled experiences.”
Per the agreement, Las Vegas Events will guarantee $16.5 million annually in purse and sponsorship for the NFR.
From 2015 through 2019 the contestant purse will be $10 million, while stock contractors will receive $3 million annually. The contestants will be guaranteed $10,000 each year, which will not be offset by contestant winnings. From 2020 through 2024 there will be cost-of-living increases to each purse and guarantee.
The agreement takes effect after the 2014 NFR.
“Perhaps the best aspect of this agreement is that it benefits every PRCA member — contestants, stock contractors, committees and contract personnel,” PRCA Chairman Keith Martin said in a statement. “There is an investment here to advance the PRCA’s circuit system and help the sport continue to grow.”
The offers from Osceola County and Dallas included a $6.2 million purse for the NFR cowboys.
Hawkins said the only drawback to his county’s offer was that a 24,000-seat arena to house the rodeo would have to be built. In the interim, the NFR would have been held for a year in Orlando’s downtown basketball arena that houses the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
The NFR has been held at the Thomas &Mack Center since Las Vegas drew the event away from Oklahoma City. A new stadium at UNLV has been pitched as a potential home for the rodeo, which would help increase attendance.
Additional elements of the new agreement include a seasonlong sponsorship program with the PRCA, presenting sponsorships of the National Circuit Finals Rodeo and 12 Circuit Final Rodeos, as well as the National Finals Steer Roping, if it is held in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Events Chairman Bill McBeath said the city and PRCA have built a “strong partnership” that has allowed the rodeo to grow over the years.
“This new agreement clearly demonstrates the commitment that Las Vegas has to the PRCA, to the overall growth of the sport of rodeo and to the contestants,” McBeath said.
The NFR has sold out 270 consecutive performances and attracts the top 15 contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
Last year’s event had attendance of 176,558 over the 10 days, resulting in a nongaming economic impact of $87.9 million for Las Vegas.
In 2014, the NFR will run Dec. 4 through 13 at the Thomas &Mack Center.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.