FORT WORTH, Texas ― The PBR has taken the next step in what is a complex process in what it hopes will be the foundation of PBR China.
PBR Chairman and CEO Jim Haworth, who previously headed a foreign-owned company in China for five years prior to assuming an executive position with the PBR, said the PBR has confirmed its partnership with James Wang, CEO of Xinnu International Sports Culture Company.
In English, Xinnu means “Golden Bull.”
Red and gold are said to represent good luck in the Chinese culture.
“We’re making progress with all of the needed steps, in an effort to have events in China this year,” Haworth said.
The first step in the process took place this past December when Haworth and Chief Global Events Officer Dave Cordovano traveled to China to meet with and gain the approval of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, which represents the National Communist Party.
Haworth said there are many steps in the process still ahead and that “everything needs to fall into place” in order to host PBR events in China as early as early as this summer.
The next step will be procuring bucking bulls.
Livestock cannot be shipped from the U.S. to China and will instead be bought and sent from Australia. Wang, who lives in Seattle, Wash., and whose company is based in Beijing, was in Australia last week to begin the task of purchasing 105 bulls and cows that would ultimately allow the Chinese organization to start its own breeding program.
Wang’s trip will be profiled on pbr.com next week.
“If they find what they want it could take days or it could take weeks,” said Haworth.
Wang is working with Glen Young, who is with PBR Australia, to identify 200 potential bulls—all of which will be tested and quarantined for 30 days before those that are selected are then flown to China.
Gary McPhee, James Wang and Glen Young.
According to Young, the flight is 14 hours and the bulls will again be quarantined once they arrive in China.
“There are some logistics they’re going to have to work through, said Haworth, who added that Priefert Ranch Equipment will supply all the chutes, panels and fencing needed for an arena and bull housing in Qingdao, China.
The plan for 2014 is to host six to eight PBR events in Qingdao beginning in late July.
Qingdao is the premiere seaside city in China with a population just over nine million. It’s located on the coast of the Yellow Sea and despite its growing population known as a resort town that, according to Haworth, attracts as many as 350,000 tourists a day during the summer months.
In spite of a turbulent past – once a sleepy fishing village it began growing at the end of the 19 century when the Germans occupied it because of its coastal benefits – it is now thought of as one of China’s most charming cities.
There are 1.3 billion people in China with 1 billion of them living in the eastern region.
By comparison, the U.S. has a population of just over 300 million and it would be as if 1 billion people lived east of the Mississippi River.
Haworth has visited Qingdao and said, “It’s a great city. It should be a great place for us to put on the event.”
Plans are to bring two groups of 20 to 25 professional bull riders from the Touring Pro Division to China this summer to compete for three or four weeks each.
A group of Gary McPhee’s 3- and 4-year-old bucking bulls.
Haworth referred to the history-making event as a dress rehearsal for 2015, when the plan is to possibly host a Built Ford Tough Series event or a high-level Touring Pro Division event in China. Next year’s plans also call for events in Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, an island off the coast of Hong Kong.
Beijing is the cultural capital of China, while Shanghai is a cosmopolitan center and Macau is best known for its assortment of casinos.
“When you think about the ability of the Western lifestyle from the United States to grow in China,” said Haworth, who added, “until now bull riding has never happened in China.”
He referred to PBR events as iconic for the sport.
“We’ll do it in one arena and we’ll have the bulls housed there in Qingdao as well,” said Haworth.
Qingdao is well-known for its pure water.
As a result, the water is used to make Qingdao beer – one of the most prominent brews in all of China – and agriculture is a major industry in surrounding areas, while the city itself hosts several marquee events that draw tens of thousands of Chinese residents and tourists throughout the summer.
The PBR is expected to be another of those attractions.
The development of PBR China is similar to that of Brazil, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
“Growing that fan base is critical,” said Haworth, who noted how important it was for the NBA to have national stars like Yao Ming, and later Jeremy Lin, competing in order to continue its global impact in countries and continents that are new to the sport.
“As we discussed before, any sport would love to have that kind of fan base from a viewership standpoint and for following your sport. Another marquee thing would be to develop some great riders that could come and actually compete here.
“I hope we can see some folks come out of China that can compete at this level,” Haworth continued. “We think this is a sport that will continue to grow over the years.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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