LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For 28 years, the Professional Bull Riders World Finals has been held in Las Vegas. But starting in 2022, PBR is packing up its spurs and saddles and taking its talents to Texas.
13 Action News spoke with PBR's CEO to better understand why the event's future is in Fort Worth, Texas.
"When it came down to it, Fort Worth is undergoing a renaissance, of sorts. And it's a cowboy renaissance that makes it the epicenter of the cowboy values, culture, and western lifestyle. And to not be a part of that would be a disservice to the best cowboys in the world," said PBR CEO Sean Gleason.
Because of the pandemic, last year was the first time since this event began that it wasn't held in Las Vegas. Gleason says that the trip to Texas in 2020 was a big factor in moving the event there, even more so than money.
He admits PBR wouldn't have made this move if it weren't for COVID-19 forcing them to host the event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in 2020.
"It did open our eyes to a World Finals in Texas. It opened up conversations with the state, the city of Fort Worth, and others. And it ultimately opened our eyes to the opportunities that are there," said Gleason.
Gleason says another reason to move the World Finals out of Las Vegas is to get a new date and new city for PBR's marquee event away from its main competitor, the National Finals Rodeo, which is typically held in Las Vegas a month later.
"Fans, vendors, participants, others, it forced a lot of them to make a choice of, 'Are we going to go to the PBR World Finals or are we going to go to the National Finals Rodeo?' And we think, at the end of the day and in the long term, establishing ourselves in Texas in May is going to give fans an opportunity to enjoy both and not have to make a choice," said Gleason.
Gleason denies this move was about money in the short term. But the economic impact extends well beyond tickets bought by the approximately 83,000 attendees in 2019. From expos and events to hotels and hospitality, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimates the event's total economic impact on Las Vegas was nearly $60 million.
Still, Gleason wants to stress that even though the World Finals are leaving Las Vegas, PBR is not.
"We love the city of Las Vegas and I don't think that PBR would even exist today if it weren't for Las Vegas. We hope that everybody will understand why we made this business decision, but know that we're trying to get back there and serve everybody," said Gleason.
The PBR World Finals will be held in Las Vegas one more time this year from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7.
Gleason couldn't provide many details about what new PBR events may be coming to Las Vegas in the future, but he said we can expect an announcement in the next couple of months.