On May 1, the Greeley (Colorado) Stampede committee announced that, while it was canceling its Fourth-of-July week festivities and its traditional rodeo, the committee would host a three-performance "virtual rodeo" on The Wrangler Network this September 11, 12 and 13, allowing for social distancing measures in accordance with new COVID-19 guidelines.
At the time, what exactly that rodeo would look like, who would be able to compete and how much money would be added was in question. But in mid-May, the committee has a little more clarity on its "Spud Rodeo", which borrows its name from the original name of the first Greeley Stampede—the Spud Days Rodeo—back in 1922.
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"We’re calling it a Virtual Rodeo, with no fans in the crowd," Greeley Stampede's General Manager Justin Watada said. "It will be a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo. There will be three performances, and it will run, from the production side, like a regular rodeo."
All timed events will have 75 competitors, including 75 teams in the team roping, drawing 70% of its entries from the top of the PRCA's world standings and 30% from the Mountain States Circuit, Watada explained, in its one-header format. Each of the three performances will only feature 12 in each event, with a slack hosted earlier in the week at a yet-to-be-determined date. Roughstock events will allow 36 competitors total.
"We’re definitely going to add money," Watada added. "At this point, we don’t have that exact dollar amount. We’re expecting the event is going to roughly cost $200,000 to put together with the stock fees and the bull fighters and sound and announcers. We’re trying to raise some money, and we’ll have that before we open entries."
The committee is projecting it will add $10,000 per event, including equal money in the team roping.
The committee has been working with sponsors in the community to allocate their sponsorships to the September event or rollover their money to the 2021 edition of the Stampede.
The Greeley Stampede is a 501(c)4, not-for-profit organization who pays an annual rent to use the park, and the 12-day Stampede, with its concerts and its carnival, makes up the organization's year of revenue.
"We're working with Otter Box (located in nearby Fort Collins, Colorado) for cool prizes for winners, and they’re verbally on board," Watada said. "We have to see what restrictions will be in place in September."
Health and safety will be a priority for volunteers and contestants, Watada said. By September, the committee estimates Colorado will be in Phase Three of its reopening, as determined by the Colorado's Health Department. That will mean the rodeo will be allowed to have 250 to 500 people on site. Watada estimates they'll need under 300 people at its Spud Rodeo performance, based on volunteers, contestants, stock contractors and judges.
"We’ll have to separate parking lots for every events—team ropers, calf ropers, bull riders, each event, all in separate parking lots. And now we’re trying to define 'one location'. Is it just the arena? Is it the full park? We’ve been in touch with Justin Sports Medicine if we do have to take everyone's temperatures, and they're ready to help. Hopefully 60 days out, we’ll know more of those types of things that will be required," Watada said.