Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nfr Cowboys Cash in Onmove to Las Vegas

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nfr Cowboys Cash in Onmove to Las Vegas

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - Professional rodeo traded its cowboy roots for the glitter of America's gambling capital, a marriage of convenience that fattened the wallets of cowboys while changing forever the image of the sport's premiere event.

Lured by the promise of twice as much prize money - $1.79 million, to be exact - the National Finals Rodeo came to town for a nine-day run with 116 contestants anxious to cash in on some of the new-found wealth and the national exposure Las Vegas offered.

Two of those cowboys - bull rider Ted Nuce and bareback rider Chuck Logue - left town after Sunday's final round with winnings of more than $50,000. Not too long ago, $50,000 represented a big yearfor a cowboy.

Although the move from Oklahoma City left folks there shaking their heads in disgust after 20 years of consistent sellouts, the cowboys said coming to Las Vegas might be the best thing that has ever happened to the sport.

""The bottom line is there's a lot more money and exposure here,'' said Jerold Camarillo, a two-time NFR winner in team roping. ""We would rope in one of the casinos if the money was there.''

Instead of a casino, the cowboys competed in the sparkling campus arena at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, a 2-year-old facility known until now as the home of the university's nationally-ranked basketball team.

Crowds of 14,000-15,000 nearly filled the arena for each of the 10 performances, and cowboy hats replaced gold chains as the wardrobe staple of those in attendance. The crowd, which included rodeo fans from across the country and from Canada, enjoyed the show as much as the cowboys liked the money.

""The rodeo will be here forever as long as they keep putting up the money,'' said Camarillo, competing in his 16th final. ""It's long overdue that we're finally getting the recognition we should have gotten years ago.''

Bull fighter Rex Dunn, who at first opposed the move from Oklahoma City, said the money and media exposure in Las Vegas helped convert him.

""I made $22,000 by fighting only four bulls,'' Dunn said. ""That couldn't have happened in Oklahoma City.''

And Lewis Feild, who captured the all-around cowboy competition, said the exposure may win the sport a live national television contract. …

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