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American Royal Rodeo Leaving Sprint Center in 2012

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Royal Rodeo is headed back to the West Bottoms this fall, but not to Kemper Arena.

According to Bob Petersen, president of the American Royal, after one year at the Sprint Center, the rodeo will be headed to the much smaller Hale Arena. Peterson says that the move was one of necessity, noting that the Sprint Center was booked for a pair of concerts – The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna – during the rodeo, which had been scheduled for the last week in October.

Hale Arena seats about 3,000, compared to over 18,000 at Kemper Arena and 17,544 at the Sprint Center.

The rodeo is now scheduled for September 27-29, which officials say will make it the last major stop on the rodeo circuit before the finals, and will coincide with the American Royal parade, with the American Royal Barbecue Competition the following weekend. It’s hoped that the change will create more public interest in the rodeo, which attracted only 17,870 people total for four performances at the Sprint Center in 2011.

In addition, the American Royal says that they are going to stop booking big-name musical performers for the rodeo, instead focusing on local and regional bands – yet to be named – to perform before and after the bronco busting and calf roping events.

In 2011, the rodeo was headlined by Reba McEntire, whose performance at the Sprint Center accounted for over 10,000 of the 17,870 people who attended the rodeo. Other performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pat Green were to sparse crowds.

The American Royal is pushing for a plan to replace Kemper Arena with a 5,000 seat facility to house both the horse shows and rodeo, but the funding for that proposed $70 million project is still undecided.

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