Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

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Editorial memo:

NFR+ Las Vegas = Cowboy Town USA?

Grab the hat and the boots and let us know what you think


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Bareback rider Clint Cannon hangs on to Joy Ride during the last night of the National Finals Rodeo on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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To: Our readers

From: Sun editorial board

Re: The National Finals Rodeo

In just a few days, Las Vegas puts on its hat and boots and becomes the epicenter of the cowboy universe. The National Finals Rodeo, the hallmark event of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, opens on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center and runs for 10 days.

We’ve heard people question why the rodeo comes to town — that the Mojave Desert isn’t exactly the heart of cowboy country.

Why Las Vegas? Why not Las Vegas?

The city has plenty of hotel space, provides top-notch entertainment and offers an arena that provides a good venue for rodeo. And the crowds enjoy the amenities, including the hotels, restaurants, clubs and the massive Cowboy Christmas gift show.

Since 1985, the NFR has called Las Vegas home. However, there is a question about whether it will continue to do so. The NFR’s contract in Las Vegas is up after the 2014 rodeo, and other cities with major stadiums — like Arlington, Texas, with Jerry Jones’ new gleaming palace — would love to lure the NFR away.

The rodeo has been good for Las Vegas, and vice versa. For Las Vegas, it brings people to town in what would otherwise be a slow time. For the NFR, it provides a unique environment that caters to the rodeo and transforms itself into Cowboy Town USA. After more than a quarter of a century, it seems like the NFR and Las Vegas are a natural fit.

What do you think?

Is the NFR good for Las Vegas? Are you a rodeo fan? Do you go to the rodeo or participate in any of the events? (Is it the one time of year you wear a hat and boots?) What do you or don’t you like about it? Do you have any memories from past rodeos?

You can comment on this page below or you can send a letter to the editor.

A look inside

Columnist John Katsilometes was embedded with the rodeo last year. To get you thinking about the rodeo — and get you dusting off the hat — here are some of his dispatches from last year’s NFR:

• What do the NFR’s leaders think of Las Vegas? We’re glad you asked. Take a look here.

• The winner of the NFR’s all-around title takes home a Montana Silversmiths belt buckle worth $25,000. Katsilometes details that and some other interesting numbers associated with the rodeo, and also interviews last year’s Miss Rodeo America. It's all right here.

• And you can’t mention the NFR in Las Vegas without mentioning South Point owner Michael Gaughan, who is “NFR’s head honcho among Las Vegas resort executives.”

• Finally, here’s photographer Sam Morris’ excellent time-lapse sequence which condenses a night at the rodeo into three minutes. It’s worth a look.

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