The National Finals Rodeo may be leaving Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Events announced on its NFR website Sunday night that the PRCA board of directors voted 6-3 on Sunday to reject its offer to extend the NFR’s stay in Las Vegas past 2014 in order to pursue an offer from Osceola County, Fla., just south of Orlando.
LVE said the Florida offer exceeded its proposal by $4 million, which it said would require a 40 percent increase in ticket prices at the Thomas and Mack Center, which seats about 17,500 for rodeo. Las Vegas has hosted the NFR since 1984.
The Orlando Sentinel reported online Sunday that the Osceola County Commission gave county manager Don Fisher authority to negotiate with the PRCA during a special meeting Sunday afternoon in Kissimmee, the county seat. Fisher told the Sentinel that PRCA board members were watching on video as the county commission met and unanimously approved going ahead with talks.
The Sentinel said the 20-year deal would include a 24,000-seat enclosed arena, which would be attached to the proposed American Music Resort across from the current Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The new arena would open in 2016, with the 2015 NFR being held at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Osceola County would commit $16 million to the NFR purse and administrative costs, to be paid back off the top in ticket and concession revenue, according to the Sentinel. Initial funding would come from the county’s resort and hotel bed tax.
According to the Osceola News-Gazette, the county would acquire the arena after it was built for $50 million.
Osceola County has a long history in both the cattle business and rodeo. It’s hosted the PRCA-sanctioned Silver Spurs Rodeo twice a year since 1944. Silver Spurs Arena would host ancillary events during the NFR.