Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 | 5:03 p.m.
Rodeo officials waited less than 24 hours after the 2013 Wrangler National Finals gold buckle and big check presentations to drop the bombshell news that they will be leaving Las Vegas — and, as our Editor at Large John Katsilometes reported Sunday night, they are moving the event to Central Florida as of 2016 (with 2015’s WNFR at Amway Arena in Orlando, the home of the Orlando Magic).
What a sad loss over a $4 million site fee dispute! How will its disappearance affect our hotel rooms, casinos, restaurants, bars and lounges and all their respective staffs in the crucial two weeks before Christmas? All those headline entertainers from Willie Nelson to Merle Haggard will pull up stakes, too! Fox also will have to move its American Country Awards.
It’s difficult to even think of the economic loss we’ll suffer and simultaneously write today’s 2013 WNFR recap of world champions with their big check winnings. Maybe there’s still hope at this 11th hour.
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association officials state: “The PRCA board of directors voted Sunday to reject the terms of the current financial offer from Las Vegas Events to extend the WNFR contract past 2014. The PRCA Board did not vote to leave Las Vegas; the vote was made strictly on the content of the current offer. The PRCA continues to carefully consider offers from all potential hosts.”
Officials in Kissimmee, Osceola County, Fla., say they want to lure the WNFR there and have approved plans for a $100 million, 24,000-seat arena that would be ready for the 2016 WNFR.
Las Vegas Events officials say they will put their full effort into developing a new Series and Finals. “For almost 30 years, we have developed a loyal fan base who call Las Vegas home for the first two weeks of December. We are confident our new ‘Finals’ will exceed all expectations.”
While we await the outcome of this tough tug-of-war, we can report this year’s winners of gold buckles and mega-checks to go with contributing photographer Tom Donoghue’s photo gallery.
Congratulations to the greatest rodeo cowboy ever, Trevor Brazile, and his wife, Shada, who won in barrel racing. Their son, Treston, and daughter, Style, became part of the duo’s award ceremonies. Trevor became the first PRCA competitor to surpass $5 million in earnings, breaking the record for most gold buckles ever.
Other champions include Kaycee Field, Sherry Cervi, Cody Teel, J.W Harris, Chad Ferley, Hunter Cure, Jade Corkill and Shane Hanchey, as we reported in our Round 10 report on Sunday.
On a charitable note, I am pleased to report that although rider Steve Woolsey had a rough week in his seventh WNFR after suffering a concussion in Round 5, his Crown Royal sponsor was still able to donate $10,000 as a result of his rides to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
While we have one final year next year, a fond farewell to the cowboys and cowgirls with their Stetsons and Boots who have been fashion de rigueur the past 12 days here on the Strip. Las Vegas felt a little empty this morning.
We hope to see you again one day here in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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