Future of Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton up in the air

Tyler Thomson hangs on during the bull riding at the 2014 Canadian Rodeo Finals. The future of the event in Edmonton is up in the air.GREG SOUTHAM / EDMONTON JOURNAL

CURTIS STOCK, EDMONTON JOURNAL

The Canadian Finals Rodeo has a contract with Edmonton Northlands this year and next. But after that it’s up in the air.

Not only have discussions been held with the Oilers Entertainment Group to move the CFR from Rexall Place to the new downtown arena which will open next year, but the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) has also been in discussion with other cities, with Calgary apparently the main threat.

“All I can say is that there are a lot of other places in the country that would like to see a Canadian Finals,” said CPRA general manager Dan Eddy.

“We have a lot of options that are open. We just want what is best for our athletes and our fans.

“Edmontonians are passionate about the rodeo in Edmonton. We are certainly working diligently with the mayor. This is a city event, it’s not really a venue event.

“The economic impact to the city is substantial.”

“Whether it stays at Northlands or moves downtown we have to get our head around the fact that it needs to stay in Edmonton and that needs to be our primary driver,” said Northlands president and CEO Tim Reid.

“This is a major economic driver for us and the city of Edmonton. To lose an event we have been part of for 42 years I think we’d lose something that is really in the fabric of Edmontonians.”

It is estimated that both CFR and Farmfair International, which runs in tandem with the rodeo at the Edmonton EXPO Centre, inject approximately $50 million into the Edmonton and surrounding area annually.

Farmfair, Canada’s top agricultural show, is where thousands of visitors show and sell top-quality livestock.

Last year a combined 181,565 people attended CFR and Farmfair.

Offering almost $1.6 million in prize money, the CFR is by far the richest indoor rodeo in Canada.

cstock@edmontonjournal.com