$2 million rodeo event coming to AT&T Stadium

Posted Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Two million dollars.

That will be the payoff for the The American Rodeoat AT&T Stadium on March 2.

The $2 million payoff is the largest ever for a one-day rodeo.

The show will feature the sport’s top athletes such as Decatur cowboys Trevor Brazile, a 10-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world all-around champion, and Silvano Alves, a two-time Professional Bull Riders world champion.

The event is scheduled on the same weekend as the PBR’s Iron Cowboy V, a standout PBR tour stop that’s scheduled for March 1 at AT&T Stadium.

The American style of rodeo competition has existed for about 150 years and no organizing committee has been close to offering competitors $2 million in a single day. The 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, for example, offered riders $5.5 million over 10 days in December. The NFR traditionally is the PRCA’s world championships and is the world’s highest-paying rodeo overall.

The Calgary Stampede in Alberta is the highest-paying rodeo during the regular season, offering competitors around $2 million over a 10-day period. The Stampede also has awarded the highest one-day payout for many years during its final performance. On July 14, competitors vied for $1,018,800.

By comparison, the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo in January and February offered competitors $571,348 over 17 days.

The American is the brainchild of Randy Bernard, who was the PBR’s chief executive officer in the late 1990s and 2000s. He is credited for the PBR’s ascent to becoming the world’s highest-paying bull riding tour. One of Bernard’s accomplishments was awarding the PBR world champion a $1 million bonus, which began in 2003.

Bernard heads up RFD-TV, a cable network that covers agriculture, ranching, western riding sports and western entertainment. Bernard and other organizers said the mission for the one-day rodeo is to offer bronc riders, ropers, steer wrestlers and barrel racers the same type of payouts and media exposure that PBR bull riders are receiving.

“I believe this will be one of the biggest milestones that I’ve ever been part of,” Bernard said of the Arlington competition. “It will give rodeo competitors the payouts that they deserve.”

Like the Calgary Stampede, each single event champion at The American will earn $100,000 and the runner-up will pocket $25,000. In addition, organizers will designate a $1 million “side pot” for non-credentialed competitors who earn the right to compete through qualifying rodeos in cities such as Stephenville, Alvarado and Mesquite. If a no-name competitor defeats the all-star cast of riders in an event, that person will receive $1 million. If more than one non-credentialed competitor wins a single event title, the $1 million will be split, Bernard said.

The event will feature the sport’s standard events such as bareback riding, barrel racing and team roping.

Some of the sport’s biggest names and organizers made short speeches at the news conference. Among them was seven-time world all-around champion Ty Murray, six-time world all-around champion Larry Mahan, seven-time world tie-down roping champion Fred Whitfield, eight-time world bull riding champion Don Gay, two-time PBR world champion Justin McBride, former National Finals qualifier Cody Lambert and PBR CEO Jim Haworth.

Stephen Jones, the Dallas Cowboys’ COO, and Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, also spoke. Jones said the rodeo will raise the sport’s profile and then praised the competitors for their toughness.

“We have had a Super Bowls, a NBA All-Star Game and great boxing matches here — we’ve had many of the world’s athletes come through,” Jones said. “But pound for pound, I don’t know that we’ve had any tougher athlete than what will we have at this rodeo.”

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