Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015 | 3:02 p.m.
The Professional Bull Riders have signed a multiyear agreement to make the new Las Vegas Arena the long-term home of the PBR Built Ford Tough Series World Finals. The state-of-the-art, 20,000-seat, $375 million indoor arena behind New York-New York and Monte Carlo will host the world finals starting in November 2016.
The Las Vegas Arena is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and AEG, both long-standing partners of PBR. MGM Grand Garden Arena was home of the first PBR Series World Finals in 1994 and hosted the event through 1998 before PBR moved to the Thomas & Mack Center, a larger venue at UNLV, in 1999.
Fans had the opportunity to watch legendary PBR bull riders and founders including three-time PBR world champion Adriano Moraes, Michael Gaffney (1997) and Troy Dunn (1998) win the coveted world champion title.
“The new Las Vegas Arena is a state-of-the-art facility with world-class amenities,” PBR CEO Sean Gleason said in a news release this morning. “We will remember our history-making years at the Thomas & Mack fondly, but we owe it to our fans and bull riders to create the next chapter in a venue that will enhance the PBR World Finals experience for everyone.
“We are excited to bring the ultimate event of the fastest-growing sport in America to the newest venue in Las Vegas. The PBR is an iconic, world-renowned sport, and we are excited to bring its premier event, the Built Ford Tough Series World Finals, to the Las Vegas Arena.”
Rick Arpin, senior vice president of arena operations at MGM Resorts International, said, “Hosting the event will allow us to showcase the arena’s multipurpose flexibility, as well as continue our long-standing relationship with this great organization.”
The “toughest event on Earth” will take over the Thomas & Mack Center one final time this year with top riders battling to become the next PBR world champion and receive the world championship buckle and $1 million bonus.
There are a handful of contenders vying for the title, including three-time PBR world champion Silvano Alves, who has a chance to make history by becoming the only four-time world champion and surpassing $6 million in earnings, also a landmark.
“This year will be bittersweet as we celebrate 17 great years at the Thomas & Mack,” Gleason said. “We have the tightest race in PBR history with several new names — Joao Ricardo Vieira, Matt Triplett, Kaique Pacheco and Nathan Schaper — in the top five and hoping to claim the last title won there.
“J.B. Mauney won the first event of the stretch run, though, and it looks like he could repeat his epic second-half domination as he did when he claimed the title in 2013. Our last year in the Thomas & Mack is shaping up to be the best.”
PBR will make its return to the Strip for the PBR Series World Finals from Nov. 2-6, 2016. Season ticket holders can purchase their 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough Series World Finals tickets in September. General public tickets go on sale Oct. 26.
A look at what to expect from the new Las Vegas Arena can be found at Vimeo.com.
PBR began as a dream of 20 bull riders 23 years ago and is now a global sports phenomenon. PBR broadcasts reach more than 500 million households in 40 nations and territories, and more than 3 million fans attend live events each year.
In its elite Built Ford Tough Series, PBR features the top 35 bull riders in the world and the top bulls in the business. The Built Ford Tough Series, Blue Def Velocity Tour, Touring Pro Division and PBR ’s circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico have paid more than $140 million in earnings to its athletes.
Twenty-seven men have earned more than $1 million, including Silvano, who, in just 54 months, won more than $5.2 million to become the richest bull rider in history. Check out PBR on its YouTube channel.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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