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National Finals Rodeo opening show canceled after UNLV shooting

Updated December 6, 2023 - 7:00 pm

Thursday’s opening night of this year’s National Finals Rodeo has been canceled following the shocking on-campus shooting at UNLV on Wednesday, delaying the start of one of the city’s biggest and most lucrative sports tourism events.

“Due to the tragic event that took place on the UNLV campus today, the Las Vegas Events board of trustees and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association board of directors announced that the first performance of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7, has been canceled,” the sponsoring organizations said in a statement released late Wednesday.

The rodeo is held at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus and is scheduled to run through Dec. 16.

It was unclear Wednesday whether people holding tickets to Thursday’s rodeo performance would get refunds or be allowed to attend one of the nine other scheduled performances. The rodeo — one of the toughest tickets to get in Las Vegas — has been sold out since last summer.

Additional details about the competition will be announced Thursday morning.

Cowboy Christmas, at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South and Central Halls, will continue as planned. It will open Thursday and run through Dec. 16. It is open to the public.

“All of us are saddened by the events that occurred today,” said Las Vegas Events President Tim Keener. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected. We are grateful to all of the first responders, police, security and the UNLV community for their actions today.”

About 340,000 people visit Las Vegas each year for NFR, and half of them typically don’t have tickets to one of the performances. Those who don’t have tickets come for rodeo watch parties, country music concerts, comedy shows and other Western-themed attractions. The rodeo and Las Vegas Events on Monday announced a contract that will keep NFR in Las Vegas through at least 2035.

“Today’s shooting on the UNLV campus was alarming and deeply troubling,” PRCA CEO Tom Glause said. “The PRCA is grateful for the rapid, professional response from law enforcement and first responders. Our thoughts right now are focused on the victims of this senseless act of violence.”

Also, a Vegas Chamber board of trustees installation luncheon scheduled for Thursday was postponed.

“Our community has once again suffered profound tragedy and our hearts are breaking,” Chamber President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

“The Vegas Chamber thanks all the first responders for their care and swift action. We call on our community to come together, support one another, and pray for the victims, their families, and our friends at UNLV.”

Sewald said the installation luncheon would be rescheduled.

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