The Osceola County (Fla.) Commissioners approved an $11-million-plus contract with the PRCA that will move the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo to Kissimmee, Fla., for the next 10 years.
The deal, signed May 19, will increase the contestant purse 175 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the PRCA. Held the last four years at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., the rodeo paid out a total of $530,503 in 2014. The move will also increase the payout to stock contracts and contract personnel by 50 percent.
Osceola County had been pursuing a bid to host the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this winter, but Las Vegas eventually won the rodeo back to the Thomas and Mack.
“It’s a long ways to Florida from Colorado, but it’s great to see them put up so much money for the circuit guys to win,” 2014 RNCFR heading champ and Colorado native Ty Blasingame said. “And heck yeah I’d make the trip if I were to qualify.”
In addition to the money added to the RNCFR, Osceola County will provide each of the PRCA’s 12 circuits with $10,000 more in added money for their individual circuit finals.
“If they had it in Japan, Ty would figure out a way to get his black horse there and win it,” Blasingame’s heeler, JW Borrego joked. “But, seriously, I’ve driven a lot farther for a lot less, and I’m just really happy about it. I’m all about seeing that part of the country, and rodeo is a big deal there. If we make it this year, we’ll just buddy up with people from our circuit to make the trip more affordable.”
Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena will host the RNCFR March 25-28, 2015. Kissimmee has hosted the Silver Spurs Rodeo, now held in the Silver Spurs Arena, since 1944. The arena hosted the first of the PRCA's Champions Challenges to count towards the 2014 season's PRCA World Standings last October. (Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves won that with a 4.8-second run.)
“This is going to be fantastic for fans and the community. The PRCA recognizes that Osceola County and Central Florida are a great rodeo market,” Osceola Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins Jr said in a statement the PRCA released. “Osceola County’s efforts to bring the (Wrangler) National Finals Rodeo here earlier this year set the stage for this deal. We’re excited about hosting competitors with such amazing talent at one of the most prestigious rodeos in the sport’s history.”
Osceola County receives some 60 million visitors annually, Hawkins said.
“This event will enhance our reputation as a rodeo-friendly community,” Hawkins added. “We have amazing rodeo fans and at the same time it will clearly show rodeo fans from around the country that we are a premier destination for them.”