By ALAN SNEL
They come to Las Vegas with their beast vs. cowboy, toughest sport on dirt theme, and the PBR World Finals event from Nov. 1-5 held its own attendance-wise given the mass shooting tragedy on the Strip that took 58 lives and injured more than 500 only a month earlier.
In 2016, the first year that the Professional Bull Riders World Finals were staged at T-Mobile Arena after years at Thomas & Mack Center, attendance was 71,149.
This year, the five-year event drew 68,375 — down four percent over last year. The daily breakdowns were:
“The sport had been on pace for a record-setting year at T-Mobile Arena. There was a sharp decline in ticket sales after the tragic incident on the strip, but a strong walk-up during the event helped offset that,” PBR spokesman Andrew Giangola told LVSportsBiz.com this week.
The PBR World Finals featured a unique new business partner. The U.S. Border Patrol used the bull riding finals as a recruiting tool.
A half-dozen of Border Patrol’s top officials and agents toured bull housing at South Point, while stock contractors Matt Scharping, Tiffany Davis and Kenny McElroy, along with PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert, took the Border Patrol officials on the tour.
In terms of new business, PBR hosted several prospects, from endemic western lifestyle brands to energy companies.
“We had very productive conversations with aftermarket companies looking to connect with some of the most avid fans in sports,” Giangola said.
Giangola cited an ESPN sports poll that said PBR has 82.5 million fans.
“We hope to have news in the future about some of these companies getting involved with America’s original extreme sport, which continues to enter the mainstream and grow,” Giangola said.
The PBR World Finals has an impressive stable of partner companies: Ford, Las Vegas, Stanley, Monster, MGM, Wrangler, Ariat, Yeti, Jack Daniels, Lucas Oil, Cooper Tire, Lincoln Electric and B&W Hitches, Giangola said.
The PBR was formed when bull riders broke away from the traditional rodeo format 25 years ago. WME/IMG, a powerhouse sports and entertainment company, bought PBR in 2015.
Contact LVSportsBiz founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com