February 10, 2014

Rodeo insider: Change is needed at famed Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo

A new rodeo arena is among the necessary improvements.

I’ve enjoyed the privilege of reporting on the renowned Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo since 1985. At that time, Lewis Feild was working on winning the world all-around title.

Last weekend, I covered my 30th consecutive Stock Show Rodeo and there was Feild’s son, Kaycee, competing in the bareback riding finals.

When I work my 40th Stock Show in 2024, I hope the following changes will have been made:

•  New arena: While Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum is the rodeo equivalent of Old Yankee Stadium, it’s also outdated. For more than a decade, Stock Show officials have envisioned a new arena, and they’ve patiently waited through a rough economy and behind other local building projects.

But from this point on, a new arena needs to be a main focus in Fort Worth. Though the city has a famous equestrian center with great stalls and exhibit halls, the Will Rogers Memorial Complex desperately needs a state-of-the-art rodeo arena. By comparison, the San Antonio Stock Show currently is conducting its annual pro rodeo in AT&T Center, the same venue that hosts the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

•  Stronger field: Fort Worth’s traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show features a mix of mediocre part-time and excellent full-time competitors. But some of the performances are too lackluster. The rodeo needs to be more invitational, even if it means including some part-timers who’ve won on the PRCA’s regional circuit or have earned the right to compete through a qualifying round.
•  Higher payouts: According to the PRCA, the purse at the 2014 Fort Worth rodeo was $597,986, but only $240,000 came from the local organizing committee. The rest (almost 60 percent) was from contestants’ entry fees. By comparison, the 2014 San Antonio rodeo’s purse is $1.269 million, all from the organizing committee.

This year, the Fort Worth committee brilliantly moved in the right direction when they conducted the Super Shootout Rodeo, a one-day show on Jan. 23 that offered $100,000. Each event winner received $10,000. The rodeo featured big-name competitors such as three-time world champion Kaycee Feild, who won the bareback riding title.

Hopefully, that was the start of a series of innovative changes. And hopefully, in 10 years, fans will sit in a new arena watching more accomplished competitors ride for bigger bucks every night.

The American update

Six-time world champion Cody Ohl of Hico, who won the second round of tie-down roping at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo with a blistering time of 7.6 seconds, also is scheduled to compete in the RFD-TV’s The American, a $2-million, single-performance rodeo set for March 2 at AT&T Stadium. After placing at the Fort Worth rodeo, he’s ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2014 world standings.

PBR update

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Valdiron de Oliveira, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, earned $40,500 after winning last weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series tour stop in Anaheim, Calif. The tour also stops at AT&T Stadium on March 1.

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