Information provided in part by PRCA, with additional reporting and interviews by Blanche Schaefer of Barrel Horse News
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 — It’s official—the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is moving to Texas for 2020. Arlington’s Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, will host the 2020 Wrangler NFR, marking the first non-baseball event at this extraordinary new park. Event organizers confirmed the Wrangler NFR and associated events will comply with all health and safety protocols for attendees. The 2020 Wrangler NFR will take place December 3–12, and fans can follow official PRCA updates throughout the event at prorodeo.com.
“The PRCA is bringing the Wrangler NFR for 2020 to Globe Life Field, just 85 days from today, and we can’t be more excited about it,” PRCA CEO George Taylor said. “This will be an NFR that sets a new bar for us that we’ve been raising every year. This has been a challenging year for every walk of life, and this is something that can help bring it forward. Pro rodeo is needed now more than any other time of year.”
Globe Life Field officials have emphasized that recommended health and safety standards are being met. Safety measures will include a mask requirement at all times while inside Globe Life Field, and there will be additional hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the building.
Seats will be sold in groups of four with separation between groups. Contact-limiting measures, such as mobile tickets, have been implemented throughout the event. There will also be metal detector screenings and a no-bag policy at entries on performance nights. Globe Life Field is encouraging all guests to check the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services websites for any guideline changes prior to the event.
“Our cowboys, just like the Dallas Cowboys across the street, will compete here in front of fans—safely,” Taylor said.
For many competitors who call the north Texas region home, competing at Globe Life Field is almost a home-court advantage and a welcome change from the cross-country trek to Vegas, alleviating some traveling stress from their animal athletes.
“I might be one of the most excited people coming here,” said five-time NFR qualifier Stevi Hillman, who lives in Weatherford, Texas. “We’re not even an hour from home, so my horses will get to rest in their own pens, and it’ll be more laid back. This is huge. ‘Truck’ (Cuatro Fame) loves to travel and he loves to rodeo, but that’s when we’re making run after run, so to be home and make run after run, I think it’ll be that much better for him. It’s relaxed, he’ll eat and drink well, and I think it’s going to a much better experience.”
For Hillman, the potential for a new and bigger arena setup than the traditional 13-second pattern in the Thomas and Mack Center arena also plays a huge part in whether or not she’ll choose to run her 2020 RFD-TV’s The American champion gelding, Truck. Though he’s consistently done most of the legwork to qualify her for the last four NFRs, Hillman has elected in the past not to run Truck in Vegas, because the small confines of the Thomas and Mack Center and challenging alleyway did not suit the long-strided large-pen specialist.
“I feel like the pattern has the potential to be a lot bigger, so we’ll see what the setup is, which means I might get to run Truck. That’s probably why I’m most excited,” Hillman said. “It’s going to be a different-shaped arena it looks like from the diagram, and obviously he likes funky-shaped arenas. It should be a bigger pattern, so that should suit him well.”
Two-time Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer and four-time NFR qualifier Hailey Kinsel is grateful that the cities of Fort Worth and Arlington are willing to work with contestants and listen to their concerns and ideas. Both Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams were in attendance at the PRCA press conference September 9 visiting with competitors and PRCA officials.
“It’s going to be really cool. It’s a little ways for me to be back and forth every day, so we were just talking to the Mayor of Fort Worth about possible stalling facilities, and they’re trying to consider what we can do there,” said Kinsel, a Cotulla, Texas, native who now resides in the Stephenville, Texas, area. “I know we may have morning practices and things like that, and if that’s the case we can’t be hauling in and out that much. Hopefully that’d be an option to where sometimes we could stay in the city and sometimes be able to go home. I’m hoping we have options there, since it is so different and we can’t stay on-site. We’ll just have to roll with it and see so we can manage and plan, and until then we are rolling with the punches like we have all year.”
Welcome to Texas
The Arlington and Fort Worth convention and visitors’ bureaus and sports commissions are rolling out the welcome for this one-of-a-kind event, and both cities have worked hard to bring the Wrangler NFR to Globe Life Field.
“This is more than a stadium; it’s a center for the world’s best events,” said Neil Leibman, cheif operating officer of the Texas Rangers. “This is our home, and this is your home.”
Nearby Fort Worth will also play host to the 2020 Wrangler NFR experience, as the annual PRCA Convention will be held November 30–December 3, in addition to the Cowboy Christmas shopping market and a slew of other fan-favorite events.
“We are a rodeo city, and we’ve roped a big one,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “The Wrangler NFR is an incredible win for our region and another example of how Fort Worth can host major events safely during this unprecedented time. This summer, Fort Worth has hosted major, national events in golf, racing and bull riding. Sporting events like the Wrangler NFR are a vital part of our visitor economy that creates jobs and supports our recovery.”
The NFR was born in Texas, and the first three years of the event were held at the Dallas State Fairgrounds beginning in 1959. Years later, the event moved to Las Vegas and has been staged at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV in Las Vegas since 1985. That venue is not available for live entertainment with fans this year due to coronavirus restrictions in Nevada.
In a survey earlier this summer, rodeo fans said overwhelmingly that they wanted an NFR venue that would accommodate fans. Organizers pledge to preserve the NFR experience that fans love and that has necessitated a one-year move out of Las Vegas.
The PRCA began looking for an alternate venue earlier in the summer. Ultimately, this has been a thoughtful partnership between Texas, Globe Life Field, the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Fort Worth, and the Sports Commissions of both Arlington and Fort Worth.
“The State of Texas knows how to do this,” Taylor said. “Texas and rodeo go together. It has for a long time.”
Tickets for Wrangler NFR 2020 will go on sale to the public September 25 via texasrangers.com/NFR. Wrangler NFR season ticket holders will be invited to purchase tickets early beginning September 16. Wrangler NFR events and the PRCA awards ceremonies will be broadcast on the PRCA media partner, The Cowboy Channel.