The annual gathering of cowboys and cowgirls might not occur in Las Vegas this year.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the group that puts on the National Finals Rodeo, said it’s still mulling its options amid the coronavirus pandemic, which include possibly hosting it outside of Las Vegas.
Organizers are looking at hosting the rodeo with and without fans in Las Vegas or outside of Las Vegas for this year only. The NFR is scheduled for Dec. 3 to 12 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Despite these extenuating circumstances, the PRCA and Las Vegas Events want to produce the best NFR ever and provide fans, sponsors, contestants and members the outstanding experience they’ve come to expect,” a news release from the PRCA read. “At this moment, an event in Las Vegas with fans isn’t feasible. There is an option to keep the NFR in Las Vegas without fans, so that is being explored.”
The NFR has an estimated $200 million economic impact. The 10-day event lures fans from around the world, with attendees staying in hotels, shopping — with Cowboy Christmas a large part of that — and dining in the valley.
If the PRCA relocates the NFR, it would be the first year since 1985 that the event has not been in Las Vegas, and the move would be largely due to being able to provide the full experience guests expect.
Fans are accustomed to shopping at the NFR gift show, walking through the Pro Rodeo Fan Zone, enjoying nightlife activities tied to NFR after-parties and other entertainment.
Having fans would also allow for other events that run in conjunction with the NFR, such as the ProRodeo Hall of Fame gala, the PRCA’s annual convention and the awards banquet.
The final decision on the NFR’s fate is expected by Sept. 30.
Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson and PRCA Commissioner George Taylor weren’t available for comment.