KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- School kids from all around the metro grow up attending the American Royal Rodeo in the fall. One year after the rodeo moved downtown to the Sprint Center, it's moving again to a much more intimate environment.
The American Royal Rodeo will now call the Hale Arena home. That means instead of an 18,000 seat venue it will be more intimate with 3,000 seats. The Royal's president says the Agriculture Education Organization need to adapt to changing times.
The professional rodeo attracted thousands of people to see some of the best bronco busting and calf-roping cowboys in the nation. In 2011, when the rodeo moved downtown to the Sprint Center, not even big name entertainers like Reba McEntire could sell it out. That's why rodeo fans like Ernie Rodina like the idea of drastically downsizing the rodeo.
"It's keeping the royal alive," Rodina said. "You know, I went to the rodeo last year and there was a couple of light nights, which didn't have 3,000 maybe in there. Once word gets out and we have a set date and word builds off that every year, I think it's going to be great."
CEO Bob Petersen says the American Royal recognizes that it's the barbecue not the rodeo anymore that attracts big crowds to the Agriculture Education Association's events. He says staging the rodeo in Hale Arena fits with the Royal's plans to tear down Kemper Arena and build a new agricultural events center. The new center includes a 5,000 seat arena which Petersen says will be ideal for continuing the rodeo.
"If you look at rodeos in this day and age, if you can average 5,000 tickets a night, that's a pretty good performance."
The American Royal Rodeo will become the last event of the season meaning the best cowboys will come to Kansas City trying to make the national final rodeo. With only 3,000 seats at Hale, fans like Rodina predict the American Royal will quickly become the hardest ticket in town to get.
Also, changing this year at the Royal, no more big entertainers. Petersen says the non-profit organization no longer faces the pressure of booking big names to fill a large arena. He says there will still be good music but on a much smaller scale.