NFR moving from Vegas to Florida?


Photo Courtesy of Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal

National Finals Rodeo cowboys are straight shooters — they’re happy to tell you their motivation for wanting to move the Super Bowl of rodeos out of Las Vegas is money.

NFR contestants met Saturday and instructed their representatives on the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association board to reject a Las Vegas Events offer to keep the NFR in Sin City because the prize money was not enough, said Bret Tonozzi, a cowboy from Grand Junction, Colo., who represents contestants on the PRCA board

“Las Vegas sent them a contract. They read it. They told us, ‘Don’t approve the contract,’ ” Tonozzi said. “There’s not enough money for them. They said they couldn’t survive on that for the next 10 years. They truly want to go back. They can’t afford it. It’s pretty simple.”

The nine-member PRCA board includes four who represent the cowboys — Fred Boettcher, Heath Ford, JP Wickett and Tonozzi. The four voted with members Benje Bendele, who represents the NFR contract staff, and Troy Weekley, a Davie, Fla., rodeo organizer, to reject the Las Vegas offer.

Board chairman Keith Martin, along with stock contractors Hal Burns and John Barnes, voted to accept the Las Vegas offer.

Osceola County, outside Orlando, Fla., is offering more money to the PRCA in hopes of luring the prized rodeo to Kissimmee. On Sunday, when the PRCA rejected the Las Vegas offer, the Osceola County commissioners met to approve an offer that included $16 million and a new 24,000-seat arena that would be ready in 2016. The commissioners authorized their county manager to negotiate a deal with the PRCA within the next 90 days.

The NFR on Saturday completed its 29th year in Las Vegas, which becomes a cowboy town during a seasonal slow period on the Strip. The Las Vegas Events offer included possibly moving the NFR to the new 20,000-seat arena that MGM Resorts International and AEG are expected to open behind New York New York in 2016.

Martin said even though the PRCA board rejected the Las Vegas offer, it also unanimously voted to make a counteroffer to Las Vegas Events, the nonprofit organization funded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority that markets the NFR.