The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy is considering ending a nearly 25-year association with Colorado Springs, and accepting a proposal to move to Albuquerque, N.M.
While neither pro-rodeo officials nor the New Mexico government is talking specifically about the proposal offered by the state, Hall of Fame board of directors met Wednesday morning to discuss the merits of the proposal.
“There has been an offer from New Mexico,” said Ann Bleiker, spokeswoman for the Hall of Fame. “But no decision has been made yet. The board is meeting now, but the earliest the decision will be announced is the first part of next week.”
Bleiker confirmed that the offer from New Mexico included building a $30 million arena.
Bill Sparks, deputy chief of staff for communications for the New Mexico governor’s office, declined to comment about the offer.
“At this point, there’s nothing I can talk about,” he said. “I just can’t comment on the proposal right now.”
If the group accepts the New Mexico offer, the departure will follow the 2005 relocation of the Professional Bullriders’ Association, which moved to Pueblo.
The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy opened in August 1979, and is the only museum in the world devoted exclusively to rodeo and rodeo cowboys. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people visit the Hall of Fame each year.
Hall of Fame operations are supported by admission and special-event revenue, membership dues and corporate contributions. The hall and museum closed to the public from January to April 2005, citing financial difficulties. Last fall, the group hired Larry McCormack as the new executive director.
“The only other thing I wish to accomplish is to turn the Hall of Fame into a highly respected and admired museum, such as the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in California or the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City,” McCormack said, speaking to the CSBJ in a September 2005 article.
Kara Roberts, vice president for business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp., said losing the hall of fame would be a blow to the city.
“Sports is a big part of our brand,” she said. “But some communities are aggressive and have incentives we can’t match. That’s what happened with the PBR. New Mexico has a reputation for being aggressive in bringing in new companies to the state. We just can’t compete – and I’m not saying that we should ‘buy’ companies to move here.”
Diane Perea, director of public relations and marketing for Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, echoed Roberts’ dismay at the news the hall of fame might move to New Mexico. Experience Colorado Springs is the former Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
“Obviously Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak wants nothing more for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame to stay in Colorado Springs,” she said. “This organization assists us in drawing the over 6 million visitors to the region each year, and is a very important asset to our region.”