LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas Events submitted an offer to keep the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo beyond the 2014 championship.
The Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association rejected it.
The cowboys deserve better, and LVE wanted to do what it does best: It placed the NFR on the table and is about to lose a 10-day, $90 million economic impact for its community. That’s like placing a $15 bet and handing $90 to the dealer instead.
In this case, the house loses. Osceola County, Fla., has a bid on the table for an additional $4 million over the one established by LVE, according to the LVE news release issued Sunday.
LVE stated it is disappointed “the PRCA has chosen to pursue a completely speculative offer vs. Las Vegas’ proven 29-year track record. … Adding an additional $4 million to the budget would require a 40 percent increase in ticket prices. That is not sustainable.”
That’s bull. If scalpers can make a mint over the 10 nights of the championship, why shouldn’t Vegas?
In addition, LVE’s release states it does not generate a profit from the NFR. What it fails to mention is that LVE is a non-profit organization. This from the LVE’s website: “Founded in 1983, LVE has grown with Las Vegas since it became one of the world’s premier resort destinations. LVE is a non-profit organization which serves as the exclusive major special events agency for the city. LVE has had the opportunity of promoting and organizing some of the world’s most successful ongoing events, including the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup), FEI World Cup Finals and the annual Las Vegas Bowl.”
So a non-profit organization is complaining about its lack of profit?
You’ll note that the No. 1 successful event listed is the NFR. That, in and of itself, is proof the NFR’s value far supersedes LVE’s bid. Understand this: Since 2004, the payout to go-round winners has increased just $4,000. In fact, the $18,630 paid to the best each night is up just about $400 from a year ago. That’s not enough of an increase.
Las Vegas has been a marvelous home to the NFR for 29 years, and I’m expecting 2014 to be a grand way to celebrate 30 years in the City of Lights. But the reality is, these are the top 15 contestants in each event, the elite of the elite, and they deserve to be paid accordingly. Next December, go-round winners should be earning $25,000, and the prize purse should be raised accordingly every year.
Instead, LVE prefers to remain with the status quo. It is willing to forego more than 100,000 extra visitors per day to their fair city – for which they were organized to serve for 30 years – in exchange for a few million dollars. This is an amazing place to conduct rodeo’s world championship, and the people of Las Vegas surely enjoy their $90 million windfall during what was a typically stale time of year. Every hostess, waitress, cabby and blackjack dealer will tell you that.
But the reality is, the cowboys deserve better, and it’s unfortunate LVE isn’t willing to cash in while it’s still ahead.