Central Florida has competition in effort to land national rodeo event



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Osceola County isn't the only place trying to woo the organizers of a major national rodeo event.

Members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association visited central Florida over the weekend to get a feel for what the area has to offer.

A breakfast with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, airboat rides and even alligator wrestling gave members of the association a taste of the area, but at the same time some members of the association were in Dallas.

"How concerned are you about Dallas?" Channel 9 reporter Nancy Alvarez asked Osceola County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins.

"I'm concerned," said Hawkins.

Hawkins spent the weekend working to convince the Rodeo Association members that central Florida should be the new home for the 10-day event they say would pump $70 million into the local economy each year.

The group also toured the Amway Center in Orlando, which would house the rodeo until Osceola County builds its own 24,000-seat arena across from the Gaylord Palms Resort.

Another stop for the group was the Silver Spurs Arena, which would host side events during the rodeo.

"Nowhere in central Florida will be untouched if we land the national finals rodeo. There's approximately 74 events that will be held in other venues small and large," said Hawkins.

But keeping the rodeo closer to its fan base out west could be an advantage for Texas.

In an email to Alvarez, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he's getting involved "to let the association know we can fulfill all their needs."

Hawkins said the group was impressed by what they saw, but were still undecided on just where the rodeo would land.

"Even the ones who said, 'We're not sold yet,' were saying, 'We're impressed with your hospitality, what you have, to coin a phrase, this isn't your first rodeo,'" said Hawkins.