National Finals Rodeo to Be Held Somewhere Less Fun in 2020


National Finals Rodeo will be held in Arlington, Texas this year, not Las Vegas. Wherever Arlington, Texas might actually be.

The move is being called a “temporary relocation.” All due respect to Arlington, Texas, but we call it “suck.”

NFR canceled

That sound you hear is Gilley’s weeping openly right about now.

NFR has been held in Las Vegas since 1985.

Each year, NFR fills hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, casinos, strip clubs and the Thomas & Mack Center like clockwork, with about 170,000 people in attendance.

The event contributes about $200 million to the Las Vegas economy.

Another event associated with NFR, Cowboy Christmas, has been canceled in Las Vegas as well.

The decision to relocate NFR is related to the pandemic, of course.

If held in Nevada, the rodeo wouldn’t have had fans. Ticket sales help pay for the event’s prize pool. Presumably, NFR will happen with fans in Texas. Sort of a competitive advantage.

PBR Rock Bar

We don’t have any NFR photos, so this shot from PBR Rock Bar will have to suffice.

On the bright side, NFR should return to Las Vegas in 2021. The event is contracted to be in Vegas through 2024, with a possible extension due to the Texas thing.

The impact of a canceled or relocated event of this size is obviously devastating to a town reeling from a string of economic hits related to the pandemic.

NFR was originally lured to Las Vegas to boost a traditionally slow period (the weeks leading up
to Christmas) for casino resorts and their associated venues.

We’ve usually got a positive spin on any news, but all we can come up with on this one is, “Man, alive, those room rates are going to be lower than ever this holiday season.” Weak.

We wish this story were about Las Vegas preparing to receive an influx of door-opening, please-and-thank-ya’lling, Stetson-wearing, hard-drinking, big-tipping cow pokes this winter.


In 2020, not so much.

There’s always next year.

Las Vegas is pinning a lot of hopes on next year.

14 thoughts on “National Finals Rodeo to Be Held Somewhere Less Fun in 2020

  1. Dean

    I would not be shocked to see several properties just lock the doors in December. Between COViD and no NFR, the strip will be a ghost town. After the tough year they’ve had, can’t see them willingly losing millions just to be operational. Caesars and MGM will likely have just one or two properties open each and I think others will see an impact as well. At least we won’t undesirable crowds like this past weekend.

    1. Mike Alexakis

      MGM would not be reopening Park MGM and the Mirage if they were concerned about the strip becoming a “ghost town”… This is just like another huge convention having to be cancelled, something they are getting used to dealing with…

  2. Mike Alexakis

    Nobody knows what December is going to be like in Las Vegas or Texas as far as the pandemic is concerned. What is known is that Texas is not even in the same ballpark as far as fun is concerned if compared to Las Vegas, the attendee’s in Texas will get to see this first hand. It is lottery winning unlikely that full attendance in an indoor arena will fly even in Texas, going to a rodeo is not worth getting sick from a novel virus for. The Republican Convention went through this cluster, the Governor of Florida promised them he would allow full crowds if they moved it from North Carolina, and he was woefully unable to deliver because of local governance and reluctance of the potential attendee’s. Economic interests do not trump public health, Texas will not be stealing this event from Las Vegas in the long term, its just another bad 2020 thing…


    I’ve always studiously avoided NFR week on my trips because the whole cowboy scene is just diametrically the opposite of my whole…life, but it does suck that the strip, and especially MGM and Mirage are not going to have that influx in December. I too suspect there may be more of the Linq/Palazzo type cutbacks on hotel availability from Thanksgiving to NYE. I suppose if resort operators were going to do that they’d have to make the call soon.

    I go every year for Xmas week, and in the past few years what was traditionally a pretty dead week has picked up a lot with foreign travelers who don’t necessarily celebrate the holiday. With COVID I’m interested to see what that week will look like this year. Resorts like Mandalay Bay are always open that week but almost all amenities and restaurants are closed up. Wonder if that may be more widespread this year.

  4. MrBuzzkill

    NFR is my fave time of year. These guests wear their very best clothes. Everything is ironed, even their jeans. Expensive shoes. The one time in Vegas when hairy toes are covered at brunch, thank God. They’re on their best behavior. And their good manners and gratitude are always in style. It’s “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” The rest of the year, the tourists are in frayed cargo shorts and t-shirts dragging luggage and barking orders. It’s hard to tell them from the homeless at first glance. Of course, we still treat them like royalty, while trying to ignore the smell and their filthy New Balance shoes. I wish we had NFR all year long. I’d go out more often.

    1. Mike Alexakis

      I enjoy visiting Las Vegas when there are huge UFC fight cards, and I loathe all fighting “sports”… UFC fans are super nice people, they are super stoked to be in Las Vegas, but you denigrate them based on how they dress. By all means stay in if how people dress is so important to you, my Bob Marley tee shirts might cause you some sad…

      1. BST

        He didn’t say it was important to him so much as he is stating facts on how good manners and gratitude are always in style .
        There is nothing wrong with people appreciating those that take pride in their appearance by dressing well- just as nothing wrong with you and your Bob Marley t-shirt .

        1. Mike Alexakis

          He actually said way more than you infer, had he simply expressed his appreciation for the NFR visitors without the insinuations of all the others I would not have thrown my two cents in, have a good weekend…

  5. Mark A. Erichson

    [Disclaimer: This comment is from a gay man. Don’t read it if it might offend you.]
    My partner and I visited Vegas one year during NFR. The sidewalks of the Strip and all of the casinos were absolutely crowded with hat-wearing, Wrangler-wearing cowboys My biggest impressions from that trip:
    1) As MrBuzzkill wrote, they were far and away the most polite, most friendly group of visitors I have ever encountered in my many trips to the city.
    2) Man, oh, man, the casinos went ALL OUT to welcome them. Even at Caesars, the dealers had changed out of their traditional outfits and were wearing western gear. Amazing!
    3) I have never seen so many HOT men in my life! Look, I’m not a horn-dog. But I just could not keep from looking around, staring, and saying, “Oh, my God.”

    1. Jackson

      You shouldn’t feel like you have to apologize for who you are, Mark. Just be yourself and if that bothers people, that’s their issue.

    2. ramivou

      Can’t speak to #3 (I’m as straight as the crease on starched Levi’s), but I concur on #1 & #2. NFR is easily the best visit window in the year. I have gone to Vegas for all major holidays and events. The electricity, attitude and joy are without comparison. The money seems to be flying too- but absent the usual “do you know who I am attitude” that accompanies other big events. On more than one occasion I recommended first time visitors to going during NFR to be able to see Vegas running right.

  6. Chief

    The marathon used to be scheduled at the same time as NFR and I have to agree that it was great to be a part of.
    It was an experience inside an experience for a Canadian not used to the ‘cowboy culture’.
    The live country music and dance floor that took over the Mirage sports book every night was a hoot.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *