National Finals Rodeo
The National Finals Rodeo, organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States. Wrangler Jeans is the title sponsor for the 10-day event, commonly just called the National Finals or NFR, which is also sometimes referred to as the World Series of Rodeo and the Super Bowl of Rodeo. The NFR is held each year in the first full week of December, at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in Paradise, Nevada.
Cowboy Christmas, a cowboy gift show, is held concurrent with the rodeo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Since the rodeo uses 'special dirt', the dirt is stored on the UNLV campus for use in next NFR.
The NFR is the final rodeo event of the PRCA season. World championship titles are awarded to the individuals who earn the most money in his or her event:
- Steer wrestling - Also known as Bull Dogging
- Team roping - Divided into "Headers" and "Heelers" in 1995
- Headers - Cowboys who rope the steer's head
- Heelers - Cowboys who rope the steer's hind feet
- Saddle bronc riding
- Tie-down roping - formerly known as calf roping
- Bull riding
The "World All-Around Rodeo Champion Cowboy" title is also awarded at the end of the NFR to the highest-earning cowboy who has regularly competed in more than one event during the year. Because of the large amount of money awarded during the NFR, the leader in an event going into the NFR is frequently dethroned at its end.
Since this event is extremely popular, it sells out all seats for all of the events. Many casinos carry the events live in their sports books or host special parties to accommodate all of the fans in town who can not get tickets for the events. Most of the major hotels and casinos book special entertainment into their showrooms with a country theme offering many of the regular shows an extended break.
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 dollars.
In 1984, the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, 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. The recent opening of the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, which is larger than the Thomas & Mack Center, may influence future bidding.
Impact on UNLV
The Thomas & Mack Center is the home court for the UNLV basketball team. By hosting the NFR, the basketball team plays a few of their away games for about 12 days every December while the NFR is in the Thomas & Mack Center.
- List of Rodeos
- Indian National Finals Rodeo
- Women's National Finals Rodeo