Organizers infuse PBR event with spring-break twist

You typically don’t associate beach volleyball and dogs diving into water with the rough-and-tumble, country-and-western sport of big-time bull riding.

But the organization Professional Bull Riders, based in Pueblo, Colo., is pushing the marketing envelope for this weekend’s Last Cowboy Standing event in Las Vegas by giving it a spring break theme in hopes of driving new and young fans to the sport.

PBR holds a bull riding event in the spring here every year. But what makes this sport event different from previous PBR competitions in Las Vegas is that it’s being held outdoors for the first time at MGM Resorts International’s festival site across from Luxor, and it’s being surrounded by spring break-themed events such as volleyball and wakeboarding.

There’s even a competition for “dock dogs” where canines go flying into pools to retrieve objects while their jumping distances are measured. You don’t see flying, waterlogged dogs at too many bull riding events.

The marketing strategy is to appeal to fans outside of PBR’s core followers, said Jim Haworth, chairman and CEO of Professional Bull Riders.

Haworth acknowledged Wednesday, as crews prepared the festival site, that it’s a calculated risk to add nontraditional activities to a bull riding competition.

“I’d say it’s a test,” he said.

But in a market with many entertainment and sport options, it’s a worth a try.

“We know there’s an opportunity to expose more people to bull riding. We think we can gain new fans. We’re hoping to build this into an annual event. We always have to be trying new things,” Haworth said from Colorado before boarding a jet for Las Vegas.

PBR’s flagship event in Las Vegas is its annual World Finals staged at the Thomas &Mack Center in October. In previous years, the spring event in Las Vegas has been held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Haworth said the group is projecting attendance of 10,000 for the Friday-Sunday spring break-themed bull riding competition, which will also offer country music concerts and shopping in a festival atmosphere.

“We’re definitely a Western lifestyle sport, but we’re broader than just Western lifestyle. We’re the original extreme sport and much younger than a traditional rodeo. But how do we broaden to a younger, female audience?” Haworth asked.

PBR has invited its 50 top-ranked riders to compete and has boosted the prize money from $170,000 to $250,000, with the winner drawing a $180,000 payday.

PBR is working with MGM Resorts on the event. Haworth declined to say how much PBR is spending above a normal bull riding event to add the spring break activities, but he described it as a “substantial investment for both of us but a calculated risk we’re willing to take.”

Chris Baldizan, an MGM Resorts International senior vice president who works on MGM’s festival sites, said there was no space at MGM’s two arenas on Memorial Day weekend, and the Village festival grounds with the spring break theme proved to be a good alternative.

PBR has a deal with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to hold two annual bull riding events in Las Vegas.

“We wanted to use the Memorial Day weekend to expose bull riding to people who otherwise might not go,” Baldizan said Wednesday.

One of the weekend’s biggest stars will be a retired bull making a cameo appearance. The famed bull, Bushwacker, will be enjoying a pool party at South Point on Saturday before having a meet-and-greet with fans at the festival site Sunday.

Country and western acts will include The Band Perry (9 p.m. Sunday) and Montgomery Gentry (10:30 p.m. Friday).

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Find him on Twitter: @BicycleManSnel

Business Videos
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA/Boring Company Press Conference
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a collaboration with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to develop and operate an autonomous people mover system for the Las Vegas Convention Center District.
International Pizza Expo includes green and gluten free
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included companies focused on vegan and gluten free, and plant-based pizza boxes. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo kicks off in Las Vegas
The first day of the International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center is everything Pizza. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
T-Mobile program aids guests with sensory needs
A program at T-Mobile Arena is designed to provide a more sensory friendly experience for guests.
Photo Booth Expo
Danielle May talks about how Simple Booth transformed her Volkswagen bus into a business.
Nevada Gaming Commission's highest fines
The highest fines assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, according to commission Chairman Tony Alamo: 1) Wynn Resorts Ltd., $20 million, 2019 2) CG Technology (then known as Cantor G&W Holdings), $5.5 million, 2014 3) The Mirage, $5 million ($3 million fine, $2 million compensatory payment), 2003 4) Stardust, $3 million, 1985 5) Santa Fe Station, $2.2 million ($1.5 million fine, $700,000 compensatory payment), 2005 6) Las Vegas Sands, $2 million, 2016 7) CG Technology, $1.75 million, 2018 8) CG Technology, $1.5 million (also $25,000 in escrow for underpaid patrons), 2016 9) Caesars Entertainment, $1.5 million, 2015 10) Imperial Palace, $1.5 million, 1989 11) Peppermill Casinos, $1 million, 2014
Tiny Pipe Home vs Shipping Crate
A Tiny pipe home was displayed at the International Builders Show this week in Las Vegas.
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Salon opens at Veterans Village
T.H.E. Salon, owned by Nicole Christie, celebrated their opening at the Veterans Village with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Southwest Airlines considering Las Vegas-Hawaii flights
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the airline is "very focused" on Hawaii. Hawaiians have a strong presence in Las Vegas.The city’s unofficial status is “Hawaii’s ninth island.” In 2018, at least 2,958 people from Hawaii moved to Nevada. Of those, 88.7 percent moved into Clark County, according to driver license surrender data. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 310,249 people came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2018.
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day. About 1.2 million Nevadans are expected to celebrate this year, a 5 percent drop from 2018. A growing number of people consider Valentine’s Day over-commercialized. Others weren’t interested in the holiday or had nobody to celebrate with. But spending is expected to rise. Those who do celebrate are buying for more people. The average American is expected to spend about $162 this year for Valentine’s Day, a 57 percent jump from a decade prior. Katherine Cullen, director of industry and consumer insights at NRF
Foreclosures of mansions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas was ground zero for America's foreclosure crisis after the housing bubble burst. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Helfenbein talks about the impact of tariffs on the clothing industry
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Air flight attendants learn how to handle a water landing
Field instructor Ashleigh Markel talks about training prospective flight attendants for Allegiant Air getting live training with a raft for a water landing at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson on Monday. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery talks about Las Vegas return
Michael Feighery, CEO of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, discusses the restaurant's upcoming return to the Las Vegas Strip.
Apartments to Come to Hughes Center
Developer Eric Cohen discusses his current building project at the Hughes Center office park in Las Vegas, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Stratosphere to rebrand to The STRAT
The Stratosphere, a 1,150-foot-tall property in Las Vegas will be renamed The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod.
Local designers’ picks for the Las Vegas Market
The trends that local interior designers are noticing at the Las Vegas Market this year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trends in bath products at Las Vegas Market
Camille Herd, the showroom manager for European Bath Kitchen Tile & Stone, talks about the popularity of free-standing bath tubs. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing