The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is staying in Las Vegas.
Numerous sources contacted me Friday, and it was confirmed moments ago in a release issued by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, that the organization and Las Vegas Events agreed to terms to keep the NFR in Sin City.
The boards of the respective entities voted unanimously to the arrangement, the release states.
LVE will guarantee $16.5 million annually in purse and sponsorship for the NFR. From 2015-19, the release states, the purse will be $10 million – this past December, the NFR’s purse was about $6.25 million. Stock contractors will receive $3 million annually. Contestants will be guaranteed $10,000 each year, the release states, which will not be offset from contestant winnings.
This past December, for example, contestants were guaranteed $13,500 from LVE, but that money was counted against actual NFR earnings. Take saddle bronc rider Chet Johnson, who placed in five go-rounds in 2013, yet earned just $11,118. Because he’d already received the advance check of $13,500 from LVE, he was not provided a check from the five rounds in which he won money. In 2015, Johnson would get $10,000, and should he win the same, he would get paid each go-round, so his Sin City earnings would be greater than $21,000.
It’s more of an appearance fee instead of a guarantee, and it’s high time it has happened. The contestants earned the right to be in Las Vegas. From 2020-24, there will be cost-of-living increases to each purse and guarantee.
PRCA chairman Keith Martin said the agreement benefits all PRCA members: stock contractors, contract personnel, committees and contestants.
“There is an investment here to advance the PRCA’s circuit system and help the sport continue to grow,” Martin said in the release.
Additionally, there will be a season-long sponsorship program with the PRCA, presenting sponsorships of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo and the 12 Ram Circuit Finals Rodeo, as well as the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping … if it takes place in Las Vegas.
For nearly 30 years, Las Vegas has built a strong partnership with the PRCA and its contestants,” LVE chairman Bill McBeath said in the release. “This new agreement clearly demonstrates the commitment that Las Vegas has to the PRCA, to the overall growth of the sport of rodeo and to the contestants.
“We feel that the new agreement is beneficial to all parties, and we’re very pleased to continue to host this iconic event for an additional 10 years.”
This is a big move for both the PRCA and LVE, and it’s the right move for rodeo. Las Vegas has been the perfect host for the sport’s marquee event.
“We are relieved that we were able to assemble an agreement that both ensures that the Wrangler NFR will remain in Las Vegas for the long term and that all parties will prosper,” LVE president Pat Christenson said.