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NFR set to leave Las Vegas, may seek Orlando area as new home

Reports soon after the conclusion of the December 2013 show say that the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is leaving Las Vegas. Coinciding with speculative reports about moving to Central Florida has sent shockwaves throughout Southern Nevada.

imagesAfter 29 years, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the umbrella organization to the NFR, declined an offer from Las Vegas Events (LVE) to extend their multi-year contract to keep the show in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Simultaneously, several media organizations in Central Florida reported the PRCA entertained an offer from Oceola County, Fla., officials, who met in a Sunday session to grant county officials the authority to begin negotiating with the PRCA on a possible deal.

Oceola County’s move calls for construction to begin on a new 24,000-seat enclosed arena close to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in the Orlando area, near Walt Disney World. The proposed contract with PRCA, like its previous one with Las Vegas, is a multi-year deal but would provide an early exit after 10 years.

PRCA officials will consider the offer before the end of February 2014, according to the Oceola News-Gazette. Oceola County’s offer beat LVE’s by more than $4 million.

The news caught officials with LVE officials by surprise, who had just marked another successful rodeo event concluding  Dec. 14 in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Events is funded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and promotes the NFR.

In a statement, LVE said what the PRCA wanted was “not sustainable”:

“We are disappointed that the PRCA has chosen to pursue a completely speculative offer versus 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. We have to balance the demands of the PRCA with the consequence of pricing our fans out of the market.”

According to local officials, the rodeo has been one of Las Vegas’ biggest events in December each year, with a local economic impact of around $60 million.

LVE executives plan to begin developing a new rodeo series and finals, although details are unavailable.

Meanwhile, Oceola County has significant ties to the rodeo community, having been home to the area’s PRCA-sponsored Silver Spurs rodeo since 1944, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

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