32 Years in Las Vegas
The Arena and Animals
Do you ever wonder what it takes to transform the Thomas & Mack Center from a basketball arena to the home of the world’s richest rodeo?
Well, it takes a lot of dirt…more than 2,000 tons for the arena and the stalls outside. Inside the arena, the dirt is 12 – 15” inches thick.
And the animals…there are more than 700 head of livestock here at the T&M, including 310 head of bucking stock, 75 calves, 120 steers, 90 contestant horses, 50 grand entry and flag horses. And they eat a lot too. The NFR will go through 60 tons of grain, 100-120 tons of hay and 70 tons of grass.
And fans, they consume a lot too. Check out these numbers for the ten days of the Wrangler NFR:
Beers Sold – 75,000
Hard Liquor Drinks Sold – 11,000
Bottled Waters Sold – 15,000
Sodas Sold – 26,000
Pizzas Sold – 5,000
Nachos Sold – 4,500
Hot Pretzels Sold – 6,800
Popcorn Sold – 7,000
World Champion’s Gold Buckle
Each Montana Silversmiths buckle requires 110 man-hours to complete and weighs about one pound. They have a solid sterling base with solid gold (24 carat; ribbons, letters and cast figures); they are valued at about $17,500 each.
32 Years in Las Vegas
This year will mark the 32nd anniversary of the NFR in Las Vegas. The prize money for the participants this year will be $10 million. In fact, the total purse has grown each year that Las Vegas has hosted the Wrangler NFR. In 1985, the purse was just over $1.8 million.
In 1985, Las Vegas had 53,000 hotel rooms and attracted just over 14 million visitors. Las Vegas currently has more than 150,000 hotel rooms and attracted a record 42.3 million visitors in 2015.
In 2015, the Wrangler NFR had a total event attendance of 170,966 over the 10 days of competition.
Among the 120 contestants in 2016, there are four countries represented – France (1); Brazil (2); Canada (7) and USA (110).
The numbering for the back numbers contestants wear at the Wrangler NFR are determined on the basis of total prize money won during the regular season in PRCA events (official and unofficial) with the exception of money won on the Xtreme Bulls Tour, in circuit finals, the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo or the All American ProRodeo Finals.
This is only the third time that a barrel racer has worn the #1 back number – Charmayne James in 1987; Sherry Cervi in 1995; and Mary Burger in 2016.
In fact, Burger is the oldest competitor at 68 years, four months. The youngest competitor is Ryder Wright at 18 years, 9 months.
A Family Affair
There are lots of family connections at the Wrangler NFR in 2016.
In saddle bronc riding, there are a total of 15 competitors and 10 of them are related to others in the field:
• Jacobs and Sterling Crawley (brothers)
• Cody and Heith DeMoss (brothers)
• Cody Wright and two sons – Ryder and Rusty Wright
• Cody and his brothers – Jake and Jesse
• Coburn Bradshaw is married to Jake, Jesse and Cody’s sister
In team roping, Brady and Riley Minor are brothers and Jake Minor is their cousin.
Sherry Cervi is married to Cory Petska. Cayla Melby and Zac Small (team roper) were married on Oct. 29 – and both qualified for their first NFR this year.
Bringing the Stock
Stock contractors are paid more than $8,900 per head for the livestock they bring to the Wrangler NFR, plus mileage. The pens out behind the Thomas & Mack Center house all of the stock.
There are more than 50 sponsors that are involved in the Wrangler NFR.
Rodeo fans again will be able to utilize the complimentary Cowboy Christmas Express for access to the Las Vegas Convention Center, in addition to the nightly round-trip NFR Express service to the Thomas & Mack Center for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
There are pick up locations downtown, the Boulder Strip and up and down the Las Vegas Strip.
Each evening, there are different musical acts inside Cowboy Corral, the pre-event hospitality area in the Cox Pavilion. In addition, there are 10 opening acts and anthems prior to each performance.
See more at NFRexperience.com