LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The National Finals Rodeo will not be held in Las Vegas this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, it’s heading to Arlington, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, and fans will be present.
This is another loss to the events and convention industry that is so vital to our city. NFR and Cowboy Christmas alone brought in around $200 million.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association began looking for an alternate venue in early summer, eventually settling on the newly-opened Globe Life Stadium in Arlington. During that time, a survey they put out got more than 40,000 responses within a few hours. Eighty percent of people said they wanted to participate in person.
Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, says he’s glad the PRCA found a city to host with fans present. Without attendees, they couldn’t pay contestants prize money.
With that said, Christenson says this is a loss for Las Vegas, as there are over 200 NFR-related events, 65 concerts and dozens of viewing parties, that could have stimulated our economy.
“It is unfortunate that this pandemic has caused the loss of yet another big, special event,” he lamented. “But, we are already working on 2021. 2021 will be the best NFR ever. So, we’re looking forward to — we’re looking forward, we’re not looking back.”
The rodeo joins the ranks of CES, SEMA, and others, all events and conventions canceled or moved due to the pandemic.
“In terms of order of magnitude in my experience, there hasn’t been anything like this,” revealed Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst of Applied Analysis.
He says conventions make up 16% of all visitors. With trade shows and live entertainment, those numbers outweigh the economic impact of tourists in the city.
Aguero notes this is not something that can rebound quickly.
“I think we have to be realistic about the fact that when we think about things, like convention travel, those things take time,” he said. “It’s not going to be the first thing to come back. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be on the back end of the cycle.”
Live entertainment restrictions from COVID-19 have impacted another money maker: sports.
Aguero says what sets Las Vegas apart is the amount of opposing fans that come here. He estimates 20 to 30% of fans at a Golden Knights game are for the other team. For the Raiders, it’s 40%.
“The bigger economic implication is really those visitor trips, those people that would have come and spent that money in our community because they wanted to come to root on their team when they were playing our home team,” Aguero explained.
When it comes to how long it will take for the Las Vegas economy to recover, he estimates 18 to 36 months.
“It’s going to take everything in our community to get to the other side of it,” Aguero said. “But coming together is what this community does, it’s proven itself resilient and resourceful through economic downturns. I think it will be the same thing here.”
The National Finals Rodeo does return to Las Vegas in 2021, and another year has been added to the Las Vegas Events contract. This means, NFR will be held in Las Vegas through 2025.