The National Finals Rodeo (NFR), known popularly as the “super bowl of rodeo,” is a championship event held annually by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). That organization established the NFR in 1958 in order to determine the world champion in each of rodeo’s seven main events: calf roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, and team roping. The world championship steer roping competition has always been held separately from the regular NFR. The National Finals Rodeo showcases the talents of the nation’s top fifteen money-winners in each event as they compete for the world title.
The first NFR was held in Dallas in 1959 and continued at that venue through 1961. In 1962-64 Los Angeles hosted the competition.
Oklahoma City successfully bid in 1964 to be the host city. In 1965 the first NFR in State Fair Arena drew 47,027 fans. NFR remained there through 1978 and there through 1984 at the Myriad Convention Center bringing Oklahoma merchants an estimated annual revenue of $8 million.
In 1984, Las Vegas, bid for the event. Although the Oklahoma City Council considered building a new $30 million arena at the State Fairgrounds, the Las Vegas bid won. Since 1985 the NFR has been held in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The NFR has become Thomas & Mack Center arena’s biggest client, bringing in more than 170,000 fans during the 10-day event.
In 2001 a landmark sponsorship agreement was achieved and Wrangler became the first title sponsor of the National Finals Rodeo. The agreement, part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s continuing effort to elevate professional rodeo to a new level, was made by PRCA Commissioner Steven J. Hatchell.
Oklahoma City has bid to return the NFR to Oklahoma, but is always outbid by the deep pockets of Las Vegas. Starting in 2011, Oklahoma City will become the host city of the RNCFR, which is the Finals for the PRCA’s semi-pro series. This is seen as a step towards proving the crowds exist to bring the NFR back to Oklahoma City when Las Vegas’ current contract ends in 2014.
Following the completion of the 2013 rodeo, Dallas, Texas and Kissimmee, Florida made bids to become the host city starting in 2015. However on January 24, 2014 the PRCA signed a contract extension through 2024 with Las Vegas Events, the official Las Vegas sponsor.
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