As the correspondent who alerted me to this story remarked, “Now these stadium headlines are just looking like Mad Libs results”:
In an historic Sunday meeting of the Osceola County Commission, commissioners agreed today to begin the process that would bring the National Finals Rodeo, as well as build a new 24,000-seat arena, to Osceola County.
Snickering over building an arena for rodeo aside — the event draws about 175,000 fans over ten days, which is respectable as sporting events go — the deal that Osceola County offered to the NFR to relocate from its longtime home in Las Vegas sounds just nuts: The county will use $50 million in hotel/motel tax dollars to help build a $150 million, 24,000-seat arena by October 2016, while owning the building (read: no property tax bill for the rodeo) and guaranteeing the rodeo $16 million a year in ticket and concessions revenue. If there’s any money left over after that, only then the county will get to share in it.
That’s a sweetheart deal by any measure, so naturally, according to the Osceola News-Gazette, “the commission was unanimous in its praise for the proposal, which could have significant impact on the area’s economy and would be a major shot in the arm to the county’s rodeo and cowboy heritage”:
“This is an historic proposal” for Osceola County, County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins Jr. said. “I’m pro-rodeo and a Silver Spurs member,” and (PRCA) is a tremendous organization.”…
“We have 90 million visitors a year,” to Central Florida, and rodeo visitors will have so many more opportunities here with theme parks such as Disney World, [Commissioner Frank Attkisson] said. “You can’t do that in Vegas.”…
“It’s the World Series and the Super Bowl,” Attkisson said.
“It will put Osceola County on the map as a tourist destination,” County Commissioner Mike Harford said…
“Wow,” said Kriss Titus, executive director of the Kissimmee Tourism Education Association. “The tourism industry will be thrilled about this. It is the best thing for tourism ever.”
So let’s get this straight: Osceola needs the help attracting tourists, because right now Central Florida only has more attractions than Las Vegas, something like that? But I guess you can’t really put a price on reviving Florida’s cowboy heritage.