BFTS Set to Begin Season in Chicago

By: Heather Croze
January 07, 2016

Silvano Alves is the defending event champion in Chicago. Photo by Andy Watson /

Silvano Alves is the defending event champion in Chicago. Photo by Andy Watson /

PUEBLO, Colo. – Get ready Chicago! The “toughest men on dirt” are back as the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) kicks off its 23rd season of competition with the first event of the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS), the Chicago Invitational at Allstate Arena on Jan. 9-10.

2016 marks the fourth consecutive year, and seventh overall, that the Top 35 bull riders in the world have stopped in the Windy City, and the first time Illinois has hosted the opening event of the BFTS.

The best bull riders in the world will converge on Rosemont’s Allstate Arena to take on the rankest bucking bulls the sport has to offer – 8 seconds at a time. Through thrilling rides and heart-stopping wrecks, PBR stars will face bovine athletes more than 10 times their size, some topping 2,000 pounds, fighting for the $30,000 event purse and valuable points towards the PBR world standings.

The action starts at 6:50 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, and at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10. Tickets, starting as low as $20, are available at the Allstate Arena box office,, and by telephone at (800) 745-3000.

New to the ticket options this year are PBR Elite Seats. Located in an exclusive section of the arena immediately next to the chutes and all of the action, PBR Elite Seats are priced at $500 each and will give fans the VIP experience of a lifetime; a pre-event reception with refreshments, backstage tours featuring a PBR 101 presentation and meet-and-greets with some of the PBR’s top stars. These seats are also on sale now.

During Round 1 on Saturday and Round 2 on Sunday, the bull riders will face one bull each. Following Round 2 on Sunday, the Top 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores after two rounds will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round for one more ride and a chance at the event title.

In October 2015, J.B. Mauney captured his second PBR World Championship (2013, 2015) and has said his goal is to win back-to-back world titles. Mauney will begin his quest in Chicago as he looks to become the third rider in PBR history to win three World Championships. Mauney will take on Wipeout (Regan Bucking Bulls) as his first bull of 2016.

Last year’s Chicago Invitational event winner and three-time World Champion, Silvano Alves (2014, 2012, 2011) will be back to defend his Chicago title. Alves rode Flint (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve) for 87.75 points during the Championship Round last year to notch his first win of the season. He will square off with Full Throttle (Cory Check) in Round 1 on Saturday.

These two greats will be joined by 2004 World Champion Mike Lee and fan favorites Matt Triplett, Ryan Dirteater and 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco, as well as veterans Kasey Hayes, Shane Proctor and Stormy Wing.

Returning to the BFTS roster in Chicago will be Markus Mariluch. Mariluch missed most of 2015, rehabbing a torn right biceps that he sustained at the end of the 2014 season. The 30-year old will have a three-event exemption, beginning in Chicago to qualify for the BFTS roster as one of the Top 35 bull riders in the world. Mariluch will face Little Air of Lone Star Bucking Bull Genetics on Saturday.

As the winner of the Bakersfield BlueDEF Tour event, 18-year old Derek Kolbaba will have the opportunity to ride this weekend in Chicago in hopes of earning enough points to move up in the PBR world standings. Kolbaba has drawn Set ‘Em Joe (Dakota Rodeo/Berger/Struve) as his Round 1 opponent on Saturday.

The opening event of the new season will also feature an outstanding bull pen with five-time PBR stock contractor of the year Chad Berger and Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team bringing some of their best. A few of Berger’s bulls will be Cowtown Slinger, Stuntin’ Like My Daddy, Beaver Creek Beau and Cooper Tires Brown Sugar. Three of Allen’s bulls will be Diesel,Uncle Tink and Spotted Demon.

The former event winners in Chicago are:

2015: Alves
2014: Marco Eguchi
2013: Billy Robinson
2011: Robson Palermo
2008: Adriano Moraes and Dustin Hall
2006: Austin Meier

CBS Sports Network, the home of the PBR, will broadcast Round 1 of the Chicago Invitational on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET and Round 2, as well as the Championship Round, on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Fans can also watch all of the action live via PBR LIVE at

The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy® Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.

The Chicago Invitational is the opening event on the 2016 PBR Built Ford Tough Series schedule. The season will consist of 26 stops, traveling to cities such as New York, Anaheim, Calif., and Dallas. It will climax with the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Nov. 2-6 at the new Las Vegas Arena when the 2016 PBR World Champion, the bull rider who earns the most world standings points during the season, will receive the coveted World Championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus.

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