Steamboat Pro Rodeo looking for long-term agreement to ensure 119-year tradition keeps bucking |

Steamboat Pro Rodeo looking for long-term agreement to ensure 119-year tradition keeps bucking

Coca-Cola Cowgirl Jordan Bastian makes her way into the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena carrying the American flag Friday, July 1, 2022.
John F. Russell/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series is looking for a long-term agreement that, if approved by City Council, would ensure the summer tradition keeps bucking for at least the next 20 years.

Rodeo has been a part of Steamboat’s Western heritage for 119 years, and rodeo board member Brent Romick said the agreement would help ensure that it continues.

The Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended approval of the long-term agreement on Wednesday, April 12, putting the final decision in the hands of council.

The biggest change in the updated agreement is the term — 20 years with an option for 20 more — as the current deals have been on a year-to-year basis. Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said this term was the same as what was struck for the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center.

As the pro rodeo series has invested more than $400,000 into the rodeo arena already and has plans to invest more, the board is looking for an agreement to ensure it will be able to utilize those upgrades long into the future.

“By memorializing a longer agreement, it allows me to go out and do what I like to do and our other board members, and that is raise capital for a city facility,” Romick said. “It is hard to ask constituents to invest in a facility that, in this specific project, doesn’t have a guaranteed longevity.”

Romick said working with the city to put on the rodeo has long been a strong partnership, with each entity holding up its end of the deal. Cosby chimed in to say Romick was too kind in that comment, adding that the city has sometimes struggled to meet its obligations in recent years, as it has dealt with staffing issues and the rodeo has always been understanding to help fill any gaps.

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“We do have a very good working relationship,” Cosby said. “They’re very kind to us and don’t point out that sometimes we have challenges meeting our own obligations.”

The rodeo series has invested to add 116 seats to a VIP section in front of the existing bleachers that will debut this season. The series has also helped pave the parking lot, built a new announcers booth and made improvements to the concrete bleachers.

“They’ve put a lot of money in the facility these last few years,” said Howelsen Hill and Rodeo Manager Brad Setter. “The goal of this (agreement) is to provide certainty for Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series for hosting professional rodeos in Steamboat Springs and for them to assist in fundraising for future facility improvements and to ensure investments made into the facility … are serving rodeo functions into the future.”

Setter said the facility is used by much more than rodeo. For example, it is free to utilize the arena for riding when it isn’t rented out.

“These facilities get used for a lot of different things year-round, so a lot of these investments that the pro rodeo series have made have been really impactful for what we’re doing here at Howelsen Park,” Setter said.

Romick, who has been working with rodeo for 44 years, said they have seen increased attendance coming out of the pandemic, which has helped them offer a quarter-million dollars in prize money, putting them on the same level as much larger cities that host pro rodeo.

“It’s recognized in the United States probably as the best summer pro rodeo series in the nation,” Romick said. “I think our history speaks for itself. We enjoy being in Steamboat Springs. We think it’s probably one of the best places to host pro rodeo, and we host more pro rodeos than any single community in the Rocky Mountain region.”

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