On Dec. 3-12 the Wrangler National Finals rodeo — the sport’s answer to the Super Bowl and World Series — is back with latigo and spurs at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas– with some huge numbers to celebrate.
This is the silver anniversary of the rodeo’s move to Las Vegas, and it comes with plenty of gold — a rodeo-record purse of $5.75 million.
The move from Oklahoma City to the Entertainment Capital of the World in 1985 has worked out beyond all expectations for rodeo — and for Las Vegas. Every performance has been sold out for more than 20 years, and telecasts of last year’s 50th anniversary edition of the rodeo drew 15.4 million viewers.
The non-gaming economic impact of the rodeo to the region last year was $54.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
But those numbers are just the by-product of the rodeo’s real business of determining world champions. Eleven months of crisscrossing the country in trucks and planes, going short on sleep and subsisting on fast food only qualifies a cowboy to compete for a gold buckle. Every world title is decided on Las Vegas’ big stage.
If that’s enough cowboy action, the NFR Cowboy Christmas gift show also starts on Dec. 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, running through Dec. 12.
The Las Vegas Backstage Access calendar lists some of the many events.