By Jason Kintzler
Last week, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, along with rodeo officials from around the state, announced the cancellation of 6 major rodeos. The largest among them was Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Rodeo is certainly part of Wyoming’s fabric and drives millions of dollars in tourism revenue to various communities around the state each summer. Canceling these attractions will certainly leave a deep scar on the economy here which has already been devastated by a lethal combination of COVID-19 and a collapse oil and gas industry.
So, that got me thinking. How could we salvage the state’s largest event in some capacity while at the same time be building for the future? What if there was a way to leverage an iconic brand and pull the international rodeo community up by its collective bootstraps and saddle up for something different?
Hold on, cowboy. We’re going digital.
First, call all those rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, tip your hat, and set a date. Plan to host the CFD rodeo with no fans in the stands.
Instead, we’re going to build the biggest Pay Per View Rodeo event of all time.
Let’s reach out to RFD-TV and other networks who might be interested in carrying a portion of the rodeo or perhaps broadcast rights after the PPV.
Let’s build an international buzz about the Daddy of ‘Em All. This will take money and we’re going to need to leverage tourism dollars and other mechanisms, but we’ll get it done.
Think of this not as a Cheyenne or Wyoming initiative, but instead the entire rodeo world. We’re going to be the symbol for perseverance and cowboy tough because well, the World Needs More Cowboys.
And, if we believe this, then we need to put our money where our mouth is.
What’s more, this idea has been put in action already by the likes of the PBR and NASCAR. No fans, but a great viewing experience and brand exposure for sponsors and partners.
What about rodeo pay? What’s the purse? Sponsorship would kick in for winners, but the rest would come from PPV dollars similar to other sporting events. Participants would share in a cut (percentage) of the PPV draw. It’s a risk because we don’t know what it’s going to bring in just yet, but my guess is that’s a gamble these participants will gladly take.
A rodeo in 2020 is about entertainment, so we’re going to need to liven things up in between events. Imagine how many musicians would support such a cause?
And, at a much lessor fee than an in person concert. Let’s rally the country music community and ask them to share live stream performances with us and our PPV audience worldwide. Garth Brooks, has always said he’s wanted to come back to CFD and perform. So, maybe he’ll do it virtually for another one of those rodeo buckles?
This is certainly a challenge, but there are ways we can help. We could use the event to solicit donations to the Wyoming Rodeo Community Foundation which could in turn, help local businesses that will be impacted by a lack of rodeo presence. Places like Cheyenne, Cody and Sheridan come to mind. We could also create a mechanism for people to see and purchase local products and services through the CFD website or similar. This can be flushed out further as things come together.
A Lasting Model
Perhaps the most exciting part of this is that this model could be scaled up and built for future events. It would create new revenue streams, new opportunities, and renewed enthusiasm in rodeo worldwide. Access to this type of event wouldn’t be just for those in attendance but for those watching around the world. Eventually, VR technology will enable an entirely different experience and we’ll be ready to capitalize.
This is just one guy’s idea and I’m sure there are a lot of holes and challenges I’m not considering. But bottom line, it’s most certainly 100% doable. And, if we’re going to hang our hats on a cause for the summer of 2020, I think this ranks right up there as an all-around viable option.
Why do I care? I’m not a rodeo cowboy and I don’t stand to make a dollar of of rodeo tourism. However, I’m a Wyoming guy who loves his state and I’m absolutely motivated by people’s assumptions about “the way it works, or the way it is” and I can’t stand complacency.
No cowboy or cowgirl I know has ever been satisfied with average. If we’re going to be great, we have to work at it. We have to grit our teeth and push on.
Here in Wyoming, we’re born for it.
Jason Kintzler is a Wyoming native and the Founder and CEO of Lifekey, a wearable technology company and Pitchengine, a PR software platform. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Business Council.