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Unprecedented Money in ProRodeo

By PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman 

The 2015 ProRodeo season kicked off October 1, and as everyone is making a game plan for this next year, it seems like prime time to step back and look at all the new money on the table in our sport. The fact that it’s historically unparalleled is very exciting for all of us, as is the fact that it’s going to impact every level of our game. 

At the very highest level is the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, so let’s look at that first. The 2014 Wrangler NFR will pay out a record $6.375 million, with first through sixth in the rounds paying $19,002, $15,018, $11,340, $7,969, $4,904 and $3,085, and first through eighth in the average paying $48,732, $39,537, $31,262, $22,987, $16,550, $11,953, $8,275 and $4,597. With equal money at the NFR, that’s all per man in the team roping, of course.

Thanks to the new 10-year contract we negotiated with our friends and partners in Las Vegas, the 2015 Wrangler NFR payoff will spike to $8.8 million. The top six holes in each go-round will pay $26,231, $20,731, $15,654, $11,000, $6,769 and $4,231. The top eight finishers in the average in each event will cash checks for $67,269, $54,577, $43,154, $31,731, $22,846, $16,500, $11,423 and $6,346. 

In addition, for the first time ever, every Wrangler NFR qualifier will receive a $10,000 qualifying bonus, which will not be taken out of his earnings, as has been the case in years past. If you make the Top 15 cut, you get the 10 grand. That equates to another $1.2 million per year, which takes us to $10 million a year for the NFR. Over the course of the next 10 years, which is the life of the contract, that’s a minimum payoff to PRCA contestants of $100 million. 

The even bigger money at the Wrangler NFR will only add to the drama of the world championship races in 2015 and beyond, as no lead will be safe. Only two cowboys ever—team roper Allen Bach in 1990 and bull rider Cody Hancock in 2000—have climbed from 15th to first over the 10-day course of the NFR. But we might be seeing more of that moving forward, and the fans will get to see it all unfold right there in Vegas, where it will truly be anybody’s game. Raising the bar so significantly at our crowning event is a big step in elevating our sport, as it amps up the excitement factor in a big-league way.

The 10-year Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contract with Las Vegas also allows the PRCA to distribute $1.2 million—$100,000 in new money to each of the 12 PRCA circuits, eartagged for their respective circuit finals rodeos—for the next 10 years, starting in 2015. The bottom line is that the new Wrangler NFR contract is instrumental in making things better for every PRCA member, no matter how hard you rodeo or from which part of the country you’re from. 

I’ve said a lot in recent times that if you don’t buy your PRCA permit or card in 2015 you’re not really serious about rodeoing, and I mean that. A similar comparison of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo from 2014 to 2015 illustrates more good news in terms of competitive opportunity for our members moving forward. In 2014, the top six contestants in each of the first two rounds and the average at the $479,878 RNCFR earned $4,525, $3,428, $2,468, $1,645, $960 and $686. First through fourth in both the semifinal and final rounds paid $5,484, $4,113, $2,742 and $1,371. 

In 2015, when our friends and partners in Osceola County host the RNCFR in Kissimmee, Fla., each of the first two rounds and the average will pay $6,182, $4,683, $3,372, $2,248, $1,311 and $937. The top four finishers in both the semifinal and final rounds will win $7,493, $5,620, $3,747 and $1,873. Every contestant who qualifies for the 2015 RNCFR will receive a first-time-ever $1,000 qualifying bonus, and every RNCFR champion will receive a $20,000 RAM vehicle voucher, which brings the grand total for the 2015 RNCFR to $1,007,651. And that does not include the championship buckles or saddles.

The taller dollars at the end of the line will do nothing but help bolster entries at every level of the game year-round, which again is a win-win for all involved—contestants, stock contractors, contract personnel, sponsors and fans alike. I can’t say enough about the folks in Osceola County, who brought a strong Wrangler NFR offer to the table. When they didn’t get that, they came right back with a plan to raise the bar on the RNCFR and got that done. 

We also just had another successful All American ProRodeo Finals in Waco, Texas, which is another great financial opportunity for our contestant members who compete at 30 or more rodeos with a minumum of $30,000 in total prize money. We’re proud to have so many championships to offer our members, and there is truly something for everyone.

We’re all getting ready to head to Mulvane, Kan., for our first world championship event of 2014, the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. This year’s NFSR will be held Nov. 7-8 at the Kansas Star Arena, and we wish all of our steer ropers luck.

As we then get ready to head back to Las Vegas to crown our 2014 world champions, it’s a good time to thank everyone in Cowboy Town. Everybody knows negotiations were at times difficult, as we discussed what we felt was best for all involved, but we now all agree that the final outcome was worth the headaches, as it really is what’s best for everyone—most importantly the sport of professional rodeo. Our relationship with Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has never been stronger, so please join me in celebrating 30 years in Las Vegas in style.

 
 
 
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