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Will the NFR land at A’s proposed Las Vegas ballpark?

The National Finals Rodeo will not be a tenant at the Oakland Athletics’ planned Las Vegas ballpark.

The A’s are not including staging the NFR at the potential $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium in their Southern Nevada playbook, according to a person with knowledge of the dealings.

The NFR has been held at UNLV’s Thomas &Mack Center since 1985, outside of 2020 when it was held at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to host the rodeo in Las Vegas is up in 2025.

Last month the A’s announced they entered into a binding agreement to purchase 49 acres from Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts. The A’s plan to break ground on the planned partially retractable roof stadium next year, if they are successful in obtaining up to $500 million in public funding from the state. The tentative plan is for the team to begin playing in the new facility in 2027.

With 81 home games each year during the MLB season, usually running from late March, or early April to late September or early October, the A’s will look to host other sporting events and concerts during non-game days.

It was speculated that the A’s, who team president Dave Kaval noted were partially modeling their hopeful Las Vegas ballpark after Globe Life Field, would lock in NFR to take place at the stadium. The A’s offseason includes the December time frame the NFR annually takes place.

Even if the A’s planned ballpark is out, Las Vegas Events (LVE) President Tim Keener said with three years left on their contract with the NFR, their options remain open and there is plenty of time to work out a deal.

“We’re certainly beginning the talks with the PRCA and some of the LV board leadership, so we’re on that angle of a renewal,” Keener told the Review-Journal. “We certainly want to extend this deal for a long, long time. … As far as any other venues coming online … Everything is kind of open at this point. I don’t think we’re going to rule anything out until we learn a little more about what’s available.”

Keener noted they are satisfied with the Thomas &Mack as the NFR’s host site. Its two-tunnel setup is ideal to host the event and handle the livestock included in it.

T-Mobile Arena, which has one tunnel, makes the newer, larger capacity arena not a preferred option to host the NFR. Additionally, the Golden Knights’ regular season is well underway during the December NFR dates.

Plus, having an NHL team have an extended road trip might prove more difficult than the workarounds done with the UNLV basketball team at the Thomas &Mack.

The Oak View Group’s planned NBA-ready arena could also be a future option for the NFR. The planned $3 billion project, which includes a $1 billion, 20,000-seat arena and a $2 billion connected resort, is slated to break ground this year, the company announced in 2022.

Oak View has a long-standing history of developing and operating successful arena projects and partnered with former Raiders President Marc Badain, who was instrumental in Allegiant Stadium being constructed, to lead the project’s development.

“The Oak View Group and other venues that come online, we’re not going to rule anything out,” Keener said. “As these venues start to come online, we’d certainly like to have these discussions. We love Thomas &Mack, but you’ve got to do your due diligence and look around and see what’s out there available.”

If an NBA expansion team ends up at Oak View’s planned arena, that arena could also present some scheduling issues. The NBA schedule is similar to the NHL’s, running from the fall through early summer, meaning the regular season would be underway during the NFR’s December dates.

An extended road trip due to a rodeo wouldn’t be new to the professional sports ranks. The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have an annual rodeo road trip when the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo occurs each February at the AT&T Center, which is scheduled around the NBA All-Star game.

With or without a new Las Vegas venue ready to host the rodeo, Keener thinks Southern Nevada is still in good shape to keep the NFR past its 2025 contracted date.

“I think the cowboys want to be here. The fans want to be here and certainly, the destination here, with the hotels, we all want the NFR to stay here for years to come,” Keener said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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