By: Kacie Albert
DES MOINES, Iowa – For the first time in four years, PBR’s (Professional Bull Riders) elite Unleash The Beast will return to Des Moines, Iowa, welcoming fans into Wells Fargo Arena Sept. 19-20 for the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational.
The PBR Lucas Oil Invitational will abide by the health standards put in place for events by Polk County and Governor Kim Reynolds. PBR is following all local and state health protocols, and along with Wells Fargo Arena, part of the Iowa Events Center, is instituting a series of fan safety protocols, including:
• In addition to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-informed screening, all PBR personnel will undergo medical testing for COVID-19.
• All Wells Fargo Arena staff working the PBR event will be temperature checked and required to wear masks.
• PBR will only sell up to 50% of arena capacity to separate fans.
• All fans will be in POD seating, which increases distancing and minimizes fan crossover when entering and exiting their seats.
• All event attendees will be encouraged to wear masks.
• Increased sanitization of high-contact areas including doors, railings and concession counters.
• Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the venue at main entrances and high volume areas to promote hand hygiene.
• Social distancing will be encouraged at the box office lobby and in all concession and restroom lines
• Guests will be encouraged to use the entrance closest to their seats to prevent congregation.
• Concourse equipment will be minimized to allow additional space for social distancing.
• Wells Fargo Arena will be implementing a clear bag policy for this event with a maximum size of 12″x6″x12″ being permitted in. Exceptions will be made for bags containing items required for medical, family, or child care.
Prior to mass-gathering restrictions implemented due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), PBR’s Unleash The Beast last competed in front of fans in Little Rock, Ark., at Simmons Bank Arena March 6-7. The sport then held closed events for its premier series in Duluth, Ga. at Infinite Energy Arena March 14-15, followed by three closed event weekends in Logan County, Okla., beginning April 25.
On July 10-12, PBR welcomed back fans for the first time in Sioux Falls, S.D. for the playoffs of a special team tournament created to keep the sport going during the pandemic, the groundbreaking PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge, as well as a Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event.
The Unleash The Beast will hold its first fan-attended event in Bismarck, N.D. on Aug. 7-8. The premier series will then make subsequent stops in Guthrie, Okla. (Aug. 14-15), Salt Lake City, Utah (Aug. 21-22), Fort Worth, T.X. (Aug. 29-30) and Billings, Mont. (Sept. 11-13) before travelling to Des Moines on Sept. 19-20.
While the Unleash The Beast hasn’t made an appearance in Iowa’s capital city since 2016, the league has a storied history in Des Moines.
After PBR debuted in the city in 2005 with a developmental Touring Pro Division event won by three-time PBR World Champion Adriano Moraes, the PBR’s elite Unleash The Beast travelled to the city for the first time in 2008, leading to eight consecutive annual stops through 2016.
Guilherme Marchi, the only PBR rider to have recorded more than 600 qualified rides on the premier series in his career, won the inaugural Unleash The Beast event in Des Moines in 2008 as the lone rider to go a perfect 3-for-3. Marchi went on to win the 2008 PBR World Championship.
Marchi’s win foreshadowed the development of Des Moines into a city where World Champions excel.
Following in the legendary Brazilian cowboy’s footsteps, four additional World Champions either won the Des Moines tour stop en route to a World Championship or in a subsequent season after they rode to the championship gold buckle. Those riders were: 2004 World Champion Mike Lee winning in 2010; two-time (2000 and 2003) PBR World Champion Chris Shivers winning in 2011; 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes winning in 2014; and two-time (2013 and 2015) World Champion J.B. Mauney winning in 2015.
Other past Des Moines winners include: Travis Briscoe (2009), Robson Palermo (2012), Joao Ricardo Vieira (2013) and Derek Kolbaba (2016).
While the Unleash The Beast tour has not visited Des Moines since 2016, the four-year absence has been filled with high-adrenaline action from the league’s expansion series, the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour.
Those winners include: Jesse Tillman (2017), Cody Rodeo Tyler (2018) and Michael Lane (2019).
This season, the PBR Unleash The Beast stop in Des Moines will be crucial in the championship race to the PBR World Finals in early November, where a gold buckle and million-dollar bonus will be awarded to the world’s best bull rider. The riders competing in Des Moines are anticipated to be led by current world No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme, along with other top title contenders including world No. 4 and surging young gun Daylon Swearingen, 2018 PBR World Finals event winner Marco Eguchi and 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis.
The bull riding action for the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational begins with Round 1 at 6:45 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 19, concluding with Round 2 and the championship round at 1:45 p.m. CT on Sunday, September 20. All 35 bull riders will get on one bull each in Round 1 and 2. Following Round 2 on Sunday afternoon, the riders’ individual two-round scores will be totaled with the Top 15 advancing to the championship round for one more out and a chance at the $30,000 event title.
Tickets for the two-day event go on sale Monday, August 3 at 10:00 a.m. CDT and start at $15. They can be purchased online at HyVeeTix.com, or by phone by calling (844) 55-HyVEE or PBR customer service at 1-800-732-1727.
PBR Elite Seats are available for avid fans who want an exclusive VIP experience while enjoying the world’s top bull riding circuit. These tickets offer premium seats, a question and answer presentation with some of the top bull riders and stock contractors in the world, a special photo opportunity after the event on the Can-Am Cage, and souvenir credential and lanyard. Social distancing will be practiced at all times throughout the experience.
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