Osceola County votes to spend $50 million plus yearly subsidies on rodeo arena

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.


11 comments on “Osceola County votes to spend $50 million plus yearly subsidies on rodeo arena

  1. The event already draws at least 17500 people per day into the area, so based on that alone, I’d think Osceola County is already on the map for rodeo fans. Maybe they just want the county name to be typed out in bolt letters, or in a bigger font?

  2. Kei: No, it’s currently in Las Vegas. (I can’t believe you’re not up on your rodeo geography!) So the claim is this would draw rodeo fans who would discover that, hey, did you know there’s a big theme park in central Florida?

  3. I suppose everything in their infrastructure – water, sewer, roads, bridges, etc is all up to snuff and does not need the money.

  4. My question are there really any other rodeo events in Florida at the moment? Las Vegas kind of developed as the center of this sport because it was sort centrally located between California, Texas, and the Midwest where all the events already are. Do they really expect the competitors (both people and livestock) to travel all the way to Florida every year for this?

  5. Jmauro, you’re too small-minded in your thinking. Just think about all the extra revenue from those 4-day passes to Seaworld and Disney people are going to buy for their bulls!

  6. Um yeah. What they fail to realize is that the NFR crowd isn’t families going to see Mickey and Shamu. It’s hard partying cowboy types that want to drink and gamble. There’s a reason it’s in Vegas every year (and the aforementioned transportation issues when you’re talking about livestock would also be terrible).

  7. This is the reason that did not approve the baseball team National from coming to Kissimmee, Ridiculous .I can not see how another rodeo is going to help.These commissioners do not know what they are doing.Ask them how many million lost since opened an Heritage Park? Yes, the Rodeo in Kissimmee. Many people thought that the Nationals was a crazy idea, but this is crazier than the first. I think there are people in Osceola County who want the area of(ST.CLOUD) to stay behind. Always giving the business to Disney,and Orlando. 100 million for 10-day of rodeo is crazy.At least the first idea we would have more ball parks.

  8. Is it any crazier than holding the NCAA hockey finals in Tampa? (Granted, that arena’s already there.)

  9. The idea is crazy. That being said, Osceola currently hosts the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi, so it’s not some weird shot in the dark.

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