The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo won’t skip a beat when the event commonly referred to as the Super Bowl of Rodeo rides into town this week. They were not able to hold this recurring event in 2020 in Las Vegas since the city was imposing very strict Covid 19 restrictions and the organization would not be able to fill the venues to capacity.
While other conferences and events have cautiously predicted smaller turnouts than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of international traffic, the management of NFR said the 10-day rodeo event starting Thursday will be stronger than ever.
The rodeo at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center has been sold out since March, and resorts are charging room rates well above the normal average. While the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has no estimate of the economic impact of this year’s rodeo, every indication is that it will meet or surpass the 2019 level, estimated at $175.8 million.
The NFR decided to move the event for one year to Texas, which had no social-distancing requirements, and the rodeo was staged at Globe Life Field, the home of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Las Vegas Events wrangled a one-year extension of NFR’s contract as part of the deal. It’s now scheduled in Las Vegas through 2025, and talks are underway to add more years.
The success of NFR can be traced to three things. Ninety-five contestants will be vying for a championship gold buckle and $10 million in prize money in a well-orchestrated, synchronized show at the Thomas & Mack Center. The resorts have created a custom festival experience across the valley. Finally, the marketing machine of Las Vegas Events, the LVCVA and the PRCA — done inexpensively through social media and websites — keeps fans interested through the rodeo season leading up to NFR.
The NFR formula is so successful that it’s being used as a template for other major events in Las Vegas. Now that resorts are familiar with the process, they too can lay out related events for attractions such as the Las Vegas Bowl and next year’s NFL Draft.
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