This year’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is facing unprecedented uncertainty, leaving its location and fan attendance hanging in the balance.
Since 1985, the season-ending rodeo extravaganza has found its home at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. However, the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association (PRCA) recently issued a statement on its website, indicating that the NFR might either shift to a different city or proceed without fans, all due to the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement assured rodeo enthusiasts that the NFR would take place, ensuring the crowning of rodeo champions. However, it underscored the impracticality of conducting the event with a live audience in Las Vegas, leading to the possibility of hosting it entirely fanless.
Exploring other options, organizers are contemplating moving the event to a different city that might permit limited fan attendance, balancing the thrill of live action with safety precautions.
The NFR is typically accompanied by several notable events, including the annual PRCA convention, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame gala, the NFR contestant back number ceremony, and the prestigious PRCA awards banquet. The PRCA has also pledged to work diligently to accommodate individuals who have previously purchased NFR tickets, emphasizing their commitment to their dedicated fans.
A final resolution on the NFR’s venue and fan participation is anticipated by September 30.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo holds a revered status as the PRCA’s season-ending championship event, acclaimed globally as the pinnacle of rodeo excellence. It showcases the talents of the world’s best cowboys, barrel racers, and livestock.
Qualifying for the Wrangler NFR is a testament to the competitors’ skills and dedication. The Top 15 contestants in standard rodeo events—bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (headers and heelers), saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, WPRA barrel racing, and bull riding—earn their spot based on earnings during the regular season, incorporating the ProRodeo Tour, the 12 RAM Circuit Finals Rodeos, and the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Bull riders, in particular, also factor in their PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour earnings in this prestigious qualification process.