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Could the NFR Move to Las Vegas’ New Ballpark?

Could the National Finals Rodeo Shift to Las Vegas’ New A’s Ballpark?

Early discussions are underway regarding a potential move of the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) to the Oakland Athletics’ upcoming Las Vegas ballpark. This proposed $1.5 billion stadium is expected to be completed by 2028 and could become the new home for the prestigious rodeo event.

Exploring the Possibilities

Tim Keener, president of Las Vegas Events, has confirmed that preliminary talks have taken place with the A’s and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) about relocating the NFR from its current venue at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Thomas & Mack Center. Keener noted, “We certainly wish the A’s success in developing an exciting stadium design and look forward to seeing the completed renderings and overall layout.”

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Las Vegas Events Board of Trustees announced in December that the NFR would remain in Las Vegas through at least 2035, extending its previous agreement which was set to expire this year. This extension underscores the event’s deep roots in the city since it began in 1985, only pausing briefly to relocate to Arlington, Texas, in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economic and Fan Impact

The NFR is a major draw for Las Vegas, attracting around 340,000 attendees annually and generating an estimated $200 million economic impact. The Thomas & Mack Center, with its 18,000-seat capacity, has hosted 360 consecutive sold-out performances, bringing over 6.5 million visitors since its inception. The LVCVA supports the event with a $3 million annual sponsorship.

However, the potential move to a larger venue raises questions about the fan experience. The new ballpark is expected to accommodate 33,000 spectators, nearly double the current capacity. LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill, who also chairs the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, remarked on this potential shift, saying, “When you’ve got 18,000 people there and it’s still an intimate event, that’s a pretty remarkable conflux of a venue and an event. That probably would change somewhat in a baseball stadium.”

Stadium Development Progress

The Athletics are actively finalizing agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and working on the stadium design. The ballpark will be situated on a 36-acre site currently occupied by the Tropicana, which Bally’s Corp. has begun to partially demolish. Major demolition is anticipated to occur in September or October, with construction on the ballpark set to commence in April.

Looking Ahead

While the idea of moving the NFR to the new ballpark is still in its infancy, it represents an exciting possibility for both the rodeo and the city of Las Vegas. This potential shift could bring a new dynamic to the event, although it remains to be seen how fans will adapt to a larger, less intimate venue. As discussions continue and plans for the ballpark progress, the future of the NFR in Las Vegas looks to be both secure and potentially transformative.

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