EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an opinion piece about the newly formed World Champions Rodeo Alliance.
The release came Tuesday morning from a new joint venture between the established PBR and a newcomer to the game, World Champions Rodeo Alliance.
As the word spread, so did speculation. Is this a renewed version of the ERA? How and why is the PBR involved? What does this mean for established rodeos?
The release is somewhat vague, but, in essence, it establishes that the PBR and WCRA will collaborate “to jointly produce, market and promote rodeo events.” The idea is growth for the sport while utilizing the PBR’s placement as the premier stand-alone bull riding association and its marketing tools.
The first event – the WCRA Rodeo Showdown – will take place May 4-6 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. It will be in conjunction with the PBR’s Last Man Standing and will include the seven standard rodeo disciplines.
The compensation appears to be amazing in a match-play format, which will feature eight competitors in each discipline. Winners will pocket $32,000. There was no mention of compensation for any others.
But the release never explains what the WCRA is. In the “About the WCRA” section, the release lists this:
“The World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) is a professional sport and entertainment entity, created to develop and advance the sport of rodeo by aligning all levels of competition. In association with Professional Bull Riders (PBR), WCRA produces major rodeo events, developing additional opportunities for rodeo industry competitors, stakeholders and fans. To learn more, visit worldchampionsrodeoalliance.com.”
That, too, is vague, as is the alliance’s website.
But here’s what I’ve been told by various sources: Yes, this is a reinvention of the ERA; but this also a different business model. The WCRA is about the growth and development of all levels of rodeo, and it is to be inclusionary – meaning it wants to include the PRCA and other rodeo associations as necessary.
While the ERA was seen as adversarial to the PRCA and others, the WCRA is hoping to avoid adversaries with its next steps. I was told by several former ERA shareholders that the ERA had no intentions of being at odds with the PRCA. It just happened that way, and there were many reason for it on both sides of the dividing line.
The basic foundation behind the ERA and the WCRA is sound: Try to grow the sport, its fan base, its sponsorships and the financial rewards for all involved in every association possible. The WCRA believes rodeo needs to create a tiered competition system to help market the stars, much like the PBR has done with its Built Ford Tough Series, its premier tour, and the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour. That has followed the professional baseball system, which has the MLB as its primary focus but has development levels all the way up.
I get that, and, most importantly, I applaud it.
But there are concerns, just as there were when the ERA was announced. The cloak of secrecy the ERA placed led to great speculation and the ever-developing rumor mill.
I believe the WCRA needs to have a level of transparency, that it needs to open its doors and allow a look inside. It needs to be proud of what it is and what it wants to do – for everyone involved in rodeo. It would allow more trust and more solid communication to take place.
And it would be a fresh start for regrowth of the industry we love so much.