Let’s go country! This is a phrase that will bring the country out of any southerner. While Las Vegas is no country city, it doesn’t fall short of the cowboy lifestyle. The greatest rodeo shows featuring horses and bulls are staged in Sin City, not to mention the incredible country-themed shows and concerts. So, in case you are wondering, yes, you can now strap your boots, put on those jeans and a hat because the sun here is not giving up.
The National Final Rodeo (NFR) Championship is an annual event hosted in the City of Light. Fifteen of the best national rodeo stars participate in a competitive show of mastering the country’s fits. From bull riding to tie-down rope, these men and women fight it out for the chance to be the best in the sport.
Do you have what it takes to go pro at riding a raged bull? Thankfully, you don’t have to compete to gain access to this adrenaline rush. You can chill on the safety stands and see the dust blow at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
History of the National Finals Rodeo
The NFR tournaments and the subsequent championship are run jointly by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). It’s an annual event attracting hundreds of thousands to the host city, currently Las Vegas. NFR history started in 1959 with Dallas as the hosting city, later moving to Los Angeles in 1962. Thereafter, the finals moved to Oklahoma City in 1965, holding it for 20 years.
The opportunity will then be quickly taken away, even with the city planning the expansion by constructing a $30 million stadium. Las Vegas was booming with business, and they had no rampage for cash. Two businessmen and Las Vegas visionaries, Benny Binnion and Herb McDonald, threw their hats in the ring for the blooming city of the night to be the next host for the NFR finals.
They introduced better compensation ($1.8 million for the NFR championship and a $700,000 offer to contractors), which was too good to ignore. Las Vegas will go ahead and win the bid after a competitive run in the PRCA boardroom. At the Thomas & Mack Center, Vegas will host the games from 1985 to date.
In 2014, the city inked an agreement with the PRCA to host the NFR championships for ten years, ending in 2024. The hosting saw an extension to 2025 following COVID-19 regulations that prevented the event from happening in Vegas in 2020. The official title sponsor for the event is Wrangler, a familiar clothing brand, especially in manufacturing cowboy jeans.
NFR Venue: Thomas & Mack Center
- Address: 4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154, United States
The Thomas & Mack Center is a stadium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The state-of-the-art center initially served the students’ in-house sporting needs but soon became the epicenter of many national events in Vegas. Annually, it hosts more than 100 events, and its attendees total in the tens of millions.
The stadium was built in 1983 for an estimated cost of $30 million, which was an ambitious project by the prevailing standards back then. Two prominent bankers, E. Parry Thomas and Jerome Mack, set the first stone. The stadium will see massive modernization in 2016 after a whopping $72.5 million was dedicated to seeing it grow into an international stadium.
Currently, the center is home to NFR Las Vegas championships until 2025. This will make it the longest host destination of all time in NFR history. The arena is huge to accommodate all the event categories, spanning over 8000 square feet. There are 4,500 parking spots, with extra parking inside UNLV. 20,000 fans can cheer for their teams from the stands, and if you are on the wealthy side, one of the 30 V.I.P. Suites will give you a clear field view.
How to get to Wrangler NFR At Thomas & Mack Center
The stadium is easy to access by public transport, which is the cheapest. It’s half a mile away from McCarran International Airport and five minutes from the strip.
The city’s monorail is a lifesaver and a hustle-free fast way to get to the UNLV campus. Even though the venue isn’t in the middle of the strip, you can alight at E. Harmon Avenue near Miracle Miles Shops. From there, take a cab to UNLV, and in just under ten minutes, you will be there. Deuces are an option, but they take longer routes, so you are better off with a taxi, an Uber, or a Lyft.
Bring your car to the venue and use the 4500 stadium parking space or park inside the UNLV campus near the stadium.
NFR Las Vegas 2022
- Date: 1st -10th December 2022
The NFR is celebrating 36 years of running the tournaments, with a crowd of more than 170,000 fans streaming into the Thomas & Mack Center to cheer for their favorite champions. The event will feature seven categories, with the top 15 national competitors going in for the world champion title. And the attractive prize money, of course-$13 million for the PRCA and $10 million for the WPRA.
The show features 15 different champions who had won in the state and regional levels in their specific categories:
- Steer wrestling– also known as bulldogging: the rider chases a steer on horseback and jumps at it attempting to bring it down by its horns.
- Team roping– a timed event where riders attempt to rope a steer.
- Saddle bronc riding– the rider attempts to ride a horse that is trying to buck him off. The rider holds onto a thick rein attached to the halter.
- Bareback bronc riding– similar to saddle bronc riding, only that the rider only has a riggin’.
- Tie-down roping– a mounted rider attempts to rope a calf.
- Barrel racing– mounted riders attempt to race a cloverleaf of the fastest round pre-set barrels.
- Bull riding– riders compete in completing all rounds on the race track on the back of a raging bull without falling.
These stars fight for the ultimate crown of rodeo master in the NFR championship by winning a streak of events in the 10-day tournament. Each category banks a gold buckle and trophy cash. If you win six straight rounds, you will bank a check.
What to expect this year:
NFR Junior World Finals
The junior NFR category seeks to hunt for the next generation of NFR champions. It started in 2015, and it has grown to be a massive competition with title sponsorship by YETI. The total prize money is $1 million, divided among all the category winners and the Montana Silversmiths championship buckle icing.
If your lad is into horses and dangerous fits of the wild country, why not sign them up for this incredible opportunity? They also get mentoring from NFR champions and PRCA/WPRA on what it takes to make a great rodeo master. All you have to do is buy them a helmet!
NFR 2022 Tickets
- Ticket Price: To Be Announced
NFR ticket prices vary year to year, and they can rocket to heights of one grand or fall to lows of 100 dollars. Your seat is a great determinant of how much you will be set back. Below is an estimated ticket price range based on past ticketings:
- Upper balcony seats: $100-$300
- Lower balcony seats: $150-$500
- Lower level plaza seats: $300-$800
- First 12 rows plaza seats: $350-$1050
Also Read: 8 Best Sports Bars On Las Vegas Strip
NFR Las Vegas: FAQs
Are there NFR watch parties in Vegas?
There are dozens of watch parties around bars and hotels that are live streaming the event if you cannot make it to the Thomas & Mack Center. They are ad-free, so you get the raw content upfront while enjoying your favorite snack or drink. Relish the after-game concerts and competitions all around the city as the theme in December is country.
What’s the NFR Bag Policy?
The clear bag policy enhances security for the fans and competitors in general. You are limited to carrying one clear bag per person and one small clutch for personal items. It will be safer to leave your stuff in the car or at your hotel, avoiding mishaps at the venue entrance.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is a landmark event that has been held annually since 1959. Professional cowboys showcase their skill in seven different categories to win the overall world championship gold buckle. There is also a hefty sum of money up for grabs for both women and men categories. If you are looking to see rage, adrenaline, dust, and cheers, well, the chaos in the bull riding and racing will grant you your wish. Book tickets to the NFR Las Vegas and enjoy what others can only see on tv.