Congratulations, Orlando. None of us saw you sprinting to the finish in the great National Finals Rodeo chase.
Most of us thought the big threat was Jerry Jones and his Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. Or Oklahoma City with a play to return the rodeo to its roots. After all, the city has made its presence known in professional sports by turning the Seattle SuperSonics into the Oklahoma City Thunder. Impressive!
All of us thought you, Orlando, were no hat, all mouse ears.
Steer wrestling? Will it become alligator wrestling?
Maybe you can set up some new events for the kids — riding bucking palmetto bugs. Or persuade some world-class cowboys to do a little python wrangling in the Everglades.
Most of us drank the Kool-Aid, believing there was no way NFR would ever leave Las Vegas. The cowboys love it here. Not only could they work their magic in the arena and make big bucks surviving big bucks, they could let down their hair and have a little fun at the blackjack table. Or take in the Blake Sheltons, Brad Paisleys and Travis Tritts of the world.
Las Vegas Events, which fought hard to get a contract renewal here for NFR, isn’t happy. But rodeo administrators have 4 million reasons why they went with Orlando. It’s all about the dinero.
Special events planners promise a competing rodeo event when NFR folds its tents at the end of 2014.
Good luck. If I’m a rodeo cowboy who has invested the whole year competing in NFR events nationwide, am I going to go to the World Series where the prize money is higher, or an exhibition game where I can also legally gamble?
Orlando has promised to build a brand new venue for the rodeo by 2016. That has to make you wonder about what will happen when the committee convened to consider a new stadium at UNLV meets.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will likely be publicly magnanimous toward Orlando. Congrats, Orlando. You got us.
But in the back rooms, they’re likely wondering what in the wild world of sports is going on here?
It’s my guess they’re plotting some kind of retaliation to fill the big hole we’ll have in our December calendar come 2015.
Are there any good Orlando shows worth picking off?
So again, Orlando, congratulations. But watch your back.