Chase outlaw rides Grey Ghost for 86.5 points at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 23 during the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series
When the Professional Bull Riders crown a champion on Oct. 27 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the organization behind one of the world's most dangerous sports will celebrate 20 years of bone-crushing entertainment.
What began as an offshoot of traditional rodeo competition has grown into five electrifying days of competition, and features interactive fan zones, rider autograph signings, after-parties, the PBR Legends Reunion and plenty of special events around Las Vegas.
“It's become a citywide celebration of PBR with hotels up and down The Strip taking part in all sorts of bull-riding themed events,” said Pat Christenson with Las Vegas Events. “They're a great example of an event producer who has combined their branding with the branding we've developed and used that synergy to create a world-class event in a world-class city.”
On Oct. 21, the Official PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals welcome reception will be held for fans and bull riders. A bull rider autograph session for fans will be held Friday, Oct. 24. Saturday, Oct. 25, is the official PBR after-party and Top 15 Rider Q&A session. On Sunday, Oct. 27, the official PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals wrap-party will be held.
Other events scheduled during the finals include poker and golf tournaments, games and contests for fans, interactive displays, miniature bull riding and live music.
Celebrating its 20th year of competition, Professional Bull Riders Inc. (PBR) is at the pinnacle of this extreme sporting event.
Its primetime programming is watched by more than 100 million viewers, and close to two million fans attend its live sporting events annually.
Owned by 44 cowboys, management and Spire Capital, the PBR now encompasses more than 1,200 bull riders from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico who compete in more than 300 bull riding events annually.
PBR’s revenue has increased eight percent this past season, and its payouts are substantial. The organization has awarded over $120 million dollars in prize money through 20 years of competition, including a $1-million-dollar bonus to the PBR World Champion each year.
The Built Ford Tough Series schedule includes 26 stops in more than 15 states. The 2013 season kicked off at New York's Madison Square Garden, Jan. 4-6 and included bull riding at Times Square.
Only three years ago, the majority of its live events were taking place in smaller markets, such as Springfield, Mo., Uncasville, Conn. and Nampa, Idaho. This season, competitions were held at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. and Dallas’ AT&T Stadium.
“We’ve sold out three nights in a row at Madison Square Garden,” said PBR CEO and chairman Jim Haworth. “With increased exposure in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, we’re drawing a broader fan base compared with 10 years ago. This is why we’re getting attention from a wider selection of sponsors.”
Highlights of this year's schedule included the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., the fourth-annual Iron Cowboy in Dallas and Last Cowboy Standing taking place in Las Vegas.
In 1995, the Colorado-based Professional Bull Riders Inc.’s live events attracted 310,000 fans; today, that number has increased to 1.5 million. This may be why, in 2013, a number of cities not on the tour in recent years, have returned. Louisville, Ky., was a stop for the PBR this year after an 11-year absence. Tacoma, Wash., also returned as part of the 2013 season for the first time since 2009.
This season also marked the PBR's 18th consecutive year visiting Billings, Mont., St. Louis, Mo., and Fresno, Calif.
“International growth will be good for us in the future, so we are looking at different cultures and other countries that can support our business,” Haworth said.
Interviewed for this article: Pat Christenson, (702) 260-8605; Jim Haworth, (719) 242-2850