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National Finals Rodeo will be held in Vegas for many years to come

Updated April 9, 2024 - 4:46 pm

Local organizers of the National Finals Rodeo decided they had enough drama a decade ago when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announced plans to move the Super Bowl of rodeo to Florida.

So they did something about it.

The LVCVA board of directors on Tuesday approved an 11-year extension to its contract with the PRCA guaranteeing the city will host the event in Las Vegas through 2035.

The board unanimously approved spending $33 million — $3 million per year — beginning in 2025, to sponsor the NFR, which is staged at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV every December, a traditionally slow time for tourism.

The board also approved spending an additional $500,000 for this year’s rodeo to market Las Vegas at many of the 650 rodeos in 44 states and four Canadian provinces leading up to the finals to encourage rodeo fans to travel to Las Vegas for December’s 10-day event.

There was no indication of plans the rodeo would move from the Thomas & Mack Center, its home since 1985, though other venues have greater capacity.

An estimated 340,000 people travel to Las Vegas annually for the rodeo, most of them taking in the Western ambience and not attending a performance. Officials say the rodeo produces a $200 million economic impact for the city.

The rodeo has had some minor bumps in its history in Las Vegas. In 2020, it was moved to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, because of state health restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, in December, one performance was rescheduled after three people were shot and killed at a building on the UNLV campus.

“I think it is something that both PRCA and Las Vegas wanted to make happen,” LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said after Tuesday’s meeting.

“They did explore leaving. At one point, I think, they said they were actually going to. And what they found is that the cowboys and the fans want to come to Vegas. There would be a different feel if it’s not in this town. This town elevates everything that it has. They’ve realized that and that’s why they’ve made the commitment to stay.”

It was in December 2013 that the PRCA announced plans to move the rodeo from Las Vegas to Osceola County, south of Orlando, beginning in 2015.

Rodeo organizers quickly met with rodeo leadership to revise the Las Vegas bid to keep the rodeo, an economic staple for the month of December, in town.

LVCVA board members applauded longtime MGM Resorts International executive Bill McBeath, who chairs Las Vegas Events, and South Point owner Michael Gaughan for their work to extend the rodeo contract.

The LVCVA action formalized negotiations that occurred in December, the last time NFR was here.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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