A behind-the-scenes movement is under way to keep the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association, and the Hall of Fame and Museum of the Rodeo Cowboy in Colorado Springs, despite a February vote by the PRCA board to move to Albuquerque.
Community leaders associated with the move say the PRCA will take a final vote on whether to leave May 16, citing legal issues which must be ironed out before the decision is final.
Some of those issues involve the PRCA bylaws, which require the organization to be headquartered in Colorado Springs, as well as ownership of some of the items displayed at the Hall of Fame.
Because the Hall of Fame is a separate entity, some say the move will require the approval of its board of trustees as well.
“They (PRCA Board of Directors) were sold a bill of goods, and they bought it – hook, line and sinker,” said Hall of Fame Trustee Harry Vold. “It belongs where it is; it’s a perfect location. I can’t imagine that it won’t stay.”
Vold said the PRCA board voted to move the PRCA and Hall of Fame to Albuquerque, without consulting the hall’s board of trustees.
The PRCA board accepted a $17 million financial package that included a $5 million grant to relocate. The governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, also is willing to provide up to $30 million to build an equestrian center near the proposed PRCA site. The relocation could take up to two years to complete.
Vold said that none of the trustees of the Hall of Fame were asked about the proposed move before the PRCA board’s decision. Now he’s hoping that decision isn’t final.
“I’ve been kept in the dark,” he said. “The trustees have never been asked, never had any voice in it at all. I’ve been told they made the decision in 30 minutes. It’s in an ideal location already. And I believe that a couple of things need to be done if this thing is headed off – we need to regroup, then put the hall in a living trust where this could never happen again.”
Vold disputes comments that Colorado Springs has not supported the PRCA and Hall of Fame, pointing out that the city has provided about $8 million to the hall. The vote to relocate was met with a public outcry, he said
“Of course, many people are very concerned and upset,” he said. “And they’ve told them (the PRCA) that they will take the bronzes and trophies out of the hall if it moves. And I, and some other stock contractors, have given about half a million dollars to the hall.”
So even if the PRCA is ready to pack up and leave Colorado Springs, chances are that some of the bronzes would stay. The Fine Arts Center owns 16 small bronze saddles displayed in the lobby of the Hall of Fame, said spokeswoman Madeleine Mellini.
“Those have been on loan, and the loan is up next year,” she said. “If they moved, of course, we would get those back.”
Mellini said she was not sure if the FAC would renew the loan if the PRCA decides to stay in Colorado Springs.
And while the PRCA has voted once to move to New Mexico, the Hall of Fame has not made that decision, said Executive Director Larry McCormack. The hall trustees will consider what to do after the PRCA vote.
The organizations have been in the same building since the Hall of Fame’s founding in 1979. The Hall of Fame, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, was built for the PRCA to honor rodeo cowboys.
“I hope it doesn’t move,” McCormack said. “I think it belongs here. Moving it makes it difficult to develop good relationships – so moving it is a setback, as far as the hall goes.”
Until the legal problems are resolved, and contracts are signed, McCormack says he plans to continue to promote the Hall of Fame within the Colorado Springs community. What happens next is unknown.
“Wherever I go, even in other parts of the country, people ask me what is going to happen,” he said. “Who knows? I just know that I can continue here for two years, and keep this thing going. I can’t shut the doors, it’s too important to the rodeo community.”
McCormack believes the PRCA will honor its original decision.
“They just have to make sure that it will work for all parties,” he said. “They’re pretty much committed to it, now the Hall Board of Directors is going to decide what it’s going to do. They will meet and work out the legal ramifications.”
McCormack said that if both organizations move to New Mexico, the building and land – located just off the Rockrimmon exit on Interstate 25, could be sold.
“I haven’t seen anything that says it can’t be sold,” he said. “It would certainly net money for them.”
The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., with city and state partners, developed a proposal to keep the PRCA in the city, said Kara Roberts, vice president of business retention for the EDC. Roberts declined to comment on the specifics of the proposal, which will be presented at the May 16 PRCA board meeting.