The National Finals Rodeo this year will move from its usual home in Las Vegas to Globe Life Field in Arlington in what would be the park's first major non-baseball event since its opening this past spring.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday first tweeted the news, saying "this event belongs in Texas!"
It was confirmed Wednesday by event organizers, who said the move was necessary due to coronavirus restrictions in place in Nevada. George Taylor, CEO of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, made the official announcement at a press conference Wednesday.
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"This will be a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that sets a new bar for us which we’ve been raising every year," Taylor said Wednesday. "It’s an understatement to say this has been a challenging year. A really challenging year for everybody in every walk of life. We think this is something that can help bring it forward."
The event will run Dec. 3-12. Health and safety protocols will be in effect.
“We are honored that the PRCA selected Globe Life Field to host the 2020 Wrangler Nationals Final Rodeo and are thrilled to be a small part of bringing this world-class event back to Texas,” Neil Leibman, chief operating officer of the Texas Rangers, said in a news release.
Safety measures will include a mask requirement at all times while inside Globe Life Field and there will be additional hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the building. Seats will be sold in groups of four with separation between groups. Contact-limiting measures, such as mobile tickets, have been implemented throughout the event. There will also be metal detector screenings and a no bag policy at entries on performance nights, the release said.
Meanwhile, Fort Worth will host the "Wrangler NFR 2020 experience," the Cowboy Christmas and other events.
"We will host a lot of the evening events, probably the buckle ceremonies. The Cowboy Christmas will be in our convention center," Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. "We just looked at this and said, together we need to do this with Arlington. They’ve got the stadium that will seat 17,000 people social distancing. We’ve got the northside, the museums, we’ve got more hotel rooms."
Tickets will go on sale to the public on Sept. 25, via texasrangers.com/NFR. Wrangler NFR season ticket holders will be invited to purchase tickets early beginning Sept. 16.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said it's unclear right now how many people would be traveling for the event.
"I think it really signals that we finally are starting to get this pandemic under control so that we can have events again," Williams said. "It also, here at Globe Life Field, really shows that this is a true special events center. It’s not just a Major League Baseball field, although it is an incredible Major League Baseball field. It is going to be situated for many special events."
Like others, nearby businesses like the Grease Monkey Burger Shop have felt the financial impacts of the pandemic. Managing partner Greg Gardner said they specifically chose to open the location on North Mesquite Street due to its close proximity to UT Arlington and the stadiums.
Business has gotten better over the past few months but it isn't back to what it was pre-COVID-19, Gardner said.
"When you have your own business, it’s what you do. It’s kind of what you do anyway. This was just something a little more drastic," he said. "Without those events over there, it’s not going to get quite back to normal. But a 20% to 25% decrease is about where we are, and that’s not bad."
He said he's hopeful the upcoming event will generate business.
"I’m sure we’ll find a way to work it where we’ve got enough places to spread people out but you know, we run shuttles from here to those events. People can park here, eat, drink, listen to music, then go to the event. So, we’re already working on schedules for that," he said. "Anything we can do to increase any part of our business day to day at this time, under this environment is fantastic."
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