postheadericon Paving the rodeo road to Las Vegas

The first performance of the renewed and refined American Royal Rodeo begins at 7:30 tonight, and it promises to kick-start a fantastic finish to the 2012 ProRodeo season.

Of the 13 rodeos this weekend that count for Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications, the Kansas City, Mo., event features the second largest purse – only the Justin Boots Championships during the River City Rodeo in Omaha, Neb., is bigger, and the 12 contestants in each event had to qualify to be part of that field.

I’ve been working for several weeks in promoting the American Royal and telling stories about this fantastic event. The people putting it on are outstanding, hard-working and caring. Whether they are staff members or the volunteers who donate their time, talent and/or financial resources, they take pride in the rodeo and the American Royal brand, which helps raise money for children’s charities.

I visited with two writers from the Kansas City Star yesterday. They will be covering the rodeo this weekend. Zachary Spain put together THIS story, which ran in this morning’s editions of The Star. Spain will cover the final two performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Dawn Bormann will be at the American Royal tonight, so look for her story in tomorrow’s publication or on the newspaper’s website.

I know there has been coverage on TV this week, and I’ve tried to get even more. I believe all the reporters would have tremendous storylines to share with their readers, viewers and listeners if they’d take the time to visit rodeo folks. That’s the goal, here, and that’s what I want to see happening with our sport.

The tour finale is taking place just three hours north of Kansas City, and it’s huge for rodeo. But on this weekend with so much at stake, I firmly believe the bigger storylines will take place inside Hale Arena.

Why?

Most of the 96 competitors in the field in Omaha are locked in to the NFR; there will be dozens of cowboys and cowgirls hoping to secure big checks at the American Royal in order to qualify for Las Vegas.

Three days in Omaha can be quite lucrative for many contestants, but one run or one ride in Kansas City can pave a major highway to the Nevada desert for several excellent competitors. This is their chance to shine.

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