DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Mesquite Championship Rodeo is hosting what it calls “the first ticketed professional live sporting event” in the country since the coronavirus shutdown.
“We’re a privately-owned rodeo, so the pressure to shut down was never really applied or forced on us. We held off canceling, with the thought that we’d be right on the bubble, and as it turns out, we were right. With aid from all our partners and produced in cooperation with Visit Mesquite Texas, we’re able to put on Texas’ Original Sport for the 63rd consecutive year in the Rodeo Capital of Texas,” said Travis Wheat, MCR Rodeo Director.
The rodeo, which started in 1957, will follow Dallas County guideline by opening at 25% capacity and taking extra precautions to sanitize high touch surfaces by its fans. Wheat said they will also encourage social distancing.
“We have to keep in mind the recommendations of our health officials while still keeping a Texas tradition alive. The show must go on. Trust me, when that cowboy gets thrown off that bull, he’ll want to distance himself for sure,” said Wheat.
It’s the 63rd consecutive year for the 13-week series, which happens on Saturday nights.
Contestants from all over the country will compete.
“People are excited about the possibility to get out and come to the rodeo. I have answered the main phone line for weeks; fans and cowboys have been increasingly pushing for us to reopen – and now we are. Guess we’re just stubborn cowboys,” said Wheat.
The rodeo is the first sporting event open to fans since the shutdown in North Texas.
“We’ve been communicating with other rodeo committees in Texas. It’s been such a dynamic situation this year. Daily changes, federally, state, and locally – altered our courses of action and ultimately weighted even the most basic of decisions. But fortunately for us, Texas is a state of freedom and liberty and our Government recognized the need to reopen the economy. When the announcement came May 18, we knew we were gonna be noddin’ out, and the goal became clear,” said Wheat.
As for other sporting events underway in North Texas, there was drag racing in Ennis (without fans). Also, the Indy Car Race at Texas Motor Speedways and PGA Tournament in Colonial start in June, but fans cannot attend.