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2014 Wrangler Champions Challenge Updates

We had member meetings at the recent Wrangler Champions Challenge presented by Justin Boots events in Amarillo, Texas, and Kissimmee, Fla., and the contestants, this administration and our sponsor partners put our heads together to make some decisions on what’s best for the Champions Challenge in 2014. 

The sponsors have requested that their money be invested in a product that showcases the top athletes in our industry, in terms of both cowboys and livestock. We’ve worked on this concept for a while now. And our sponsors, which with their long-term support have proven themselves extremely loyal to our sport, have indicated that our regular-season television packages were difficult for fans to follow, because of the format of rodeo and the fact that we couldn’t guarantee the top guys on a consistent basis. The people watching at home didn’t always get to see our stars. Whether you’re talking about the NBA, NFL, MLB or PRCA, fans in all professional sports want to see the best athletes on TV. You see Peyton Manning throw the football every Sunday. Fans need to see guys like Trevor Brazile rope and Kaycee Feild ride on every telecast, too. 

The Wrangler Champions Challenge provides opportunity for our members, and satisfies that star-power component for our fans and sponsors. Competing at each 2014 event will be the top seven in the world based on the 2013 PRCA World Standings, plus each venue’s previous year’s event champion, the current leader in the 2014 Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings as of 30 days before each event, and the current leader in the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour presented by Justin Boots standings as of 30 days before each event. 

We originally felt that 10 events was about the right number to satisfy the television element of the Champions Challenge. But in talking to the contestants, first at Amarillo and then again at Kissimmee, they voiced their opinion that 10 was too many in this first full year. They asked us to try and combine these Champions Challenge events with existing PRCA rodeos, so travel would be a little easier on them. We listened to that, and will have just one stand-alone event in 2014, which will be in Spanish Fork, Utah, next spring. 

In Kissimmee, the cowboys voted to put their $400 Champions Challenge appearance fee—which totals $32,000—into the payoff as additional added money in 2014. The contestants felt that was consistent with how they make a living, in that they have to win to get paid. Four places were paid at Champions Challenge events in 2013: 1. $4,000; 2. $3,000; 3. $2,000; 4. $1,000. Starting at Rapid City in February, five places will be paid at Champions Challenge events, as follows: 1. $5,440; 2. $4,160; 3. $3,040; 4. $2,080; 5. $1,280.

We are very hopeful that the Champions Challenge will not only satisfy our existing fans and sponsor partners, but create new fans and sponsor dollars as well. All sponsor dollars create more opportunity for everybody in the PRCA and help us grow the sport. Sponsors help us support all 12 Ram Circuit Finals Rodeos, as just one example. 

We have six 2014 Wrangler Champions Challenge events that are confirmed: Rapid City, S.D., Feb. 4; Scottsdale, Ariz., Feb. 27; Redding, Calif., May 17; Spanish Fork, May 31; Puyallup, Wash., September 7; and Amarillo, Texas, September 17. The Puyallup Champions Challenge will be held in conjunction with the Justin Boots Playoffs there. We’re working on the 2014 Justin Boots Championships now, and are hoping to have a Champions Challenge finale in conjunction with that event.

It is our intent to also introduce a team concept to the Wrangler Champions Challenge in the foreseeable future, as that will be another exciting element for all involved, from our contestants to our committees, sponsors and fans. We are extremely proud of the direction the Champions Challenge is headed, and it’s evolving in a very positive direction thanks to input from every area of the rodeo business. The event reps, which are elected by the contestants, have been involved in every decision made on the Champions Challenge from the beginning. 

The Wrangler Champions Challenge has so much promise and potential for our sport. It’s a concept that I firmly believe will start a positive domino effect in ProRodeo. The Champions Challenge can bring in more sponsor dollars; sponsor dollars drive an impressive television package; a strong TV package builds recognition of our members and creates that star power found in every professional sport; star power attracts more fans; more fans lead to more sponsor dollars; and every sponsor dollar benefits every member of this association. You get the idea. And it paints a pretty bright picture for the future of this game.
 
 
 
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