It was Friday night at the National Finals Rodeo, and Las Vegas Events president Pat Christenson was talking about the event’s triumphant return after a one-year hiatus in Texas over COVID concerns — and of having an ice cream machine installed in the press room.
He also said he would like to get an extension done before the current contract expires in 2025.
“Last year,” Christenson said when asked about when he would like to get a signature on a bottom line.
When it happens, he said, NFR competitors will benefit.
“We’re not going to get a deal done with the same money we have right now,” said Christenson, commenting on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s proposed $6.4 million, five-year sponsorship of the rival Professional Bull Riders tour and the current deal with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association that this year offered a record $12.2 million purse. “There will be an increase in the payout.”
During a 30-minute discourse, Christenson covered myriad topics about Las Vegas and the NFR, including long-term viability at the Thomas & Mack Center. When the current contract comes due, the T&M will be 42 years old, and it is beginning to show its age.
Christenson said moving the rodeo to Allegiant Stadium would result in a loss of intimacy and demand for tickets that makes the NFR so compelling. He said T-Mobile Arena isn’t a viable option, either, because of logistics — unlike the T&M, which has entrances at both ends for livestock, T-Mobile’s are on the sides and would make holding some of the events, such as barrel racing, problematic.
One of the most intriguing possibilities he mentioned — and it’s pure speculation at this point — is a potential NBA franchise partnering with the PRCA in a new arena venture on the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard.
A deal like that could lock up the NFR for 10 years or more — or maybe even forever, Christenson said with a smile bigger than Texas.
Around the horn
— Two top NFR tie-down ropers believe there is a correlation between their interest in golf and their success in the arena.
Hunter Herrin, who won Thursday’s eighth go-round, said playing golf gets his mind out of the hotel room and was a respite during COVID. Title contender Shane Hanchey said golf makes him relate to Michael Jordan.
“You hear stories about how Michael Jordan would be out there playing golf on the day of a playoff game and then drop 50 points that night,” Hanchey told local golf enthusiast Brian Hurlburt after a round at Bali Hai Golf Club.
In case you were wondering, the ropers do not tie their clubs together in 7.1 seconds but carry them in a traditional golf bag.
— The pro rodeo career of Bear Pascoe, who caught four passes in the New York Giants’ 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in the 2012 Super Bowl, apparently has stalled.
Pascoe, who won the steer wrestling competition at the PRCA’s Permit Member of the Year Challenge at the South Point two years ago and is the son-in-law of former world champion bulldogger John W. Jones, competed in four PRCA-sanctioned rodeos this season. That included Las Vegas Days in November, in which he earned $1,393 — roughly $123,000 less than what he got for catching those passes against New England.
— Cole Hauser, who portrays the popular wrangler Rip Wheeler on the hit TV series “Yellowstone,” was among the celebrity guests at the NFR. He was spotted in the crowd wearing a denim shirt and a camouflage hat depicting what appeared to be an assault weapon.
One of my friends got to meet Cole Hauser (RIP from Yellowstone) at the NFR in Vegas. I think he looks better with cowboy clothes on..🤔 pic.twitter.com/rVhHAp0NMP
— Minnesota MAGA Girl (@maga_minnesota) December 11, 2021
Champion bull rider J.B. Mauney, who suffered a concussion and facial cuts after being bucked off in the second go-round of the NFR, on why he decided early during his career to compete despite being injured:
“They said it would be six to eight months before I could ride again. I told them they was crazy. I was working at a ball bearings plant, and that was enough to make anyone decide they were going to have hell trying to throw me off.”