Our View: Rodeo: Part of Steamboat’s authentic brand | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Rodeo: Part of Steamboat’s authentic brand

At issue

The city landed a $150,000 GOCO grant for rodeo improvements

Our view

Investments made to Steamboat’s historic rodeo grounds enhance the overall visitor experience

More than a century ago, Steamboat Springs was the place where cowboys from area ranches would gather to show off their roping and riding skills. Those early rodeo events, which date all the way back to 1897, often took place right on Steamboat’s Main Street.

Our view

Investments made to Steamboat’s historic rodeo grounds enhance the overall visitor experience

Eventually, in 1903, it was concern for the safety of everyday citizens that led to the passing of an ordinance prohibiting people from riding horses at speeds faster than 10 miles per hour on city streets, but even laws like that couldn’t quiet Steamboat’s wild west spirit.

Fast forward 112 years, and you’ll discover Steamboat’s appetite for rodeo action is alive and well and on display every weekend throughout the summer at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. These days, the nation’s top rodeo cowboys and cowgirls travel here to compete in the Steamboat Springs Pro Series Rodeo, which is among the nation’s best.

Those who’ve enjoyed this season’s early rodeo action should have noticed that the historic rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill have been improved since last summer, with new gates and pens, some fresh paint and other upgrades. These improvements and others are being completed thanks in part to a $150,000 Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, grant the city of Steamboat Springs landed this June.

We think any investments made to maintain and improve the rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill are important to ensure that one of Steamboat’s summer staples continues to draw crowds and entertain visitors and locals alike. The Pro Rodeo Series doesn’t necessarily bring visitors to town, but it is part of an overall Steamboat experience that keeps people coming back. On average, more than 25,000 people attend the rodeo during its 10-weekend run.

The rodeo remains an iconic piece of Steamboat’s authentic brand that makes our town more than just a typical ski resort. For many visitors, a trip to Steamboat in the summer wouldn’t be complete without a night spent watching bull riding and barrel racing action from the Brent Romick Arena grandstand. Throw in the live entertainment and the traditional nightly calf scramble, and it’s a popular event for the whole family to enjoy.

We continue to believe that efforts to preserve and enhance the rodeo grounds should be part of the city’s ongoing capital funding discussions. There exists a $4 million master plan to renovate the facility which calls for restroom and locker room upgrades, overnight camping, RV hook-ups and expanded seating, among other items.

With all the issues facing the city right now, we realize upgrades at the rodeo grounds may not be top priority and may have to be tackled one project at a time. We think the city’s and rodeo board’s pursuit of the recent GOCO grant to fund some of these improvements is definitely a step in the right direction, and we’d like to see more of the same.

Ultimately, allocating funding to improve the rodeo experience, through matching grants or special events funding, is an investment in Steamboat’s unique brand, which equates to more satisfied visitors who make return visits and give a boost to our local economy.

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