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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Rodeo Comes to Las Vegas

5 December 2003

LAS VEGAS – As competitors from near to parts yonder "cowboy up" in Southern Nevada over the next few days, local businesses will try to lasso their share of the cash windfall that typically accompanies the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo's annual run in Las Vegas.

From cowboys to city slickers, most locals agree the rodeo helps drive tourism during what would normally be a slow preholiday period, business representatives and tourism officials said this week.

"The National Finals Rodeo has proven to be of significant importance to this community," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said. "Anyone who's been around here knows in the early part of December, the boots and jeans come out and our city's (hotel and motel) rooms are filled because of it."

This year's rodeo, which runs today through Dec. 14, is expected to bring up to 174,500 fans to the sold-out Thomas & Mack Center. Outside the competition, the event also lures hordes of cowboys and girls, urban or otherwise, to businesses such as Corral West, a Western wear chain with stores at 5436 Boulder Highway and 3129 N. Rainbow Blvd.

Sherri Jean, who manages both stores, said the rodeo improves traffic at both locations. However, NFR's largest impact comes at Corral West's booth at the Western Gift Expo Country Christmas, an annual event that is based this year at The Venetian's adjacent Sands Expo and Convention Center.

"Our store sometimes does more than $1 million in sales over seven days at that event," said Jean, who added she often hires 15 to 20 seasonal employees to work during the rodeo period. Corral West typically has about five local employees throughout the year, she said.

Country Christmas organizers said the event will host nearly 400 Western lifestyle and retail exhibitors, entertainment and special events. They expect up to 115,000 will attend over its 10-day run, which ends Dec. 14.

Last year, NFR brought an estimated 44,000 visitors to Southern Nevada, filling approximately 99,400 local hotel and motel rooms during the 10-day event. Each fan spent an average of $879 per trip, which resulted in a nongaming economic impact of $38.7 million, said John Piet, senior research analyst for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The year, the authority expects the rodeo will attract approximately 45,000 visitors, generating a nongaming economic impact of $39.5 million, Piet said.

Local showrooms also plan to welcome many popular country and western-themed acts over the next few days. Those scheduled to appear include Willie Nelson (tonight at Mandalay Bay's House of Blues); Charlie Daniels (Saturday through Tuesday at The Orleans); Brooks & Dunn (Dec. 8-10 at the Las Vegas Hilton); Randy Travis (Dec. 10-13 at The Orleans); and Chris LeDoux (Dec. 11-13 at Silverton).

Jeff Foxworthy's redneck-friendly comedy act runs today through Sunday at Paris Las Vegas, while country comedian/singer Rodney Carrington brings his "Nut Sack" tour to the MGM Grand Garden Arena Dec. 12-13.

NFR staple Ricky & The Redstreaks will perform nightly through Dec. 14 at the Stardust, while the Lady Luck has planned four days of rodeo-themed events beginning Dec. 11.