Some think proposed rodeo complex could hurt business on US 192 in Osceola

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —

Business owners and residents in Osceola County told Channel 9 on Wednesday that if the county secures the National Finals Rodeo, it would be bad for businesses that have already set up shop on US 192.

Over the weekend, WFTV broke the news that the National Finals Rodeo is likely leaving Las Vegas, and Osceola County is in the running to secure it.

Leaders there plan to build a new stadium and entertainment complex that would go up across the street from the Gaylord Palms off Osceola Parkway.

One business that would be affected is a rodeo-themed diner in Kissimmee near Heritage Park. There, thousands of people attend rodeo events at the Silver Spurs Arena.

The restaurant owner was thrilled to learn that the nationals would be coming to Osceola until he learned about the plans for a new complex.

"Being out by Disney, how is it going to help our business here located here in the center of Kissimmee?" said the owner's son, John Marple.

"The residents of Harmony, St. Cloud, Kenansville, Holipaw. Why not do something for this end of town?" asked resident Paulette Batton, who has lived in Osceola for more than 30 years.

Those attending rodeo events at the proposed arena would have to drive 30 minutes to Marple's restaurant and other area businesses, and residents don't think visitors will make the drive.

But county chairman Fred Hawkins insists they will.

"It's almost like how money is spent at the Daytona 500 or Bike Week. These people are coming with cash on hand," he said.

Hawkins said the site across from the Gaylord Palms was chosen by the American Music Resort, the county's partner in building the arena that will host the rodeo.

But he said all of Osceola County will benefit by dozens of extra events that accompany it, many of which will be held at Heritage Park.

"There's clinics, there's the sponsors that will be hosting other events at different venues at our lakes with a fishing tournament. There will be golf tournaments. Everything's spread out," Hawkins said.

Business owners and residents are counting on it.