Despite a unanimous vote to “suspend relocation” to New Mexico, the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association might still seek greener pastures.
“This action does not, however, preclude future considerations of any action the Board of Directors believes to be in the best interest of the PRCA,” said Tom Feller, chairman of the PRCA board.
Since the board voted three months ago to accept New Mexico’s $17 million incentive package to relocate the PRCA and Hall of Fame to Albuquerque, a task force of city leaders and community activists has been lobbying to keep the organizations in Colorado Springs.
Despite that effort, which includes nearly $500,000 of free radio advertisements, sources say the PRCA decided to table the move after the independent Hall of Fame Board of Trustees voted unanimously to stay in Colorado Springs.
But that doesn’t mean the group is ready to commit fully to the city.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re looking at all deals,” said Rob Alexander, a member of the task force organized to make a counter-proposal to the New Mexico offer. “What they’re saying, they are not committing to New Mexico or Colorado Springs. They have a sign on the door, open for all offers.”
Alexander is on the Foundation Board of the Pike’s Peak or Bust Rodeo, and served as a go-between during negotiations for the past two months. He said the PRCA board has received offers from other states, but declined to name the states that are interested in the organization.
“Any time, and this goes back to February, that you announce you’re considering a move, that’s what EDCs (economic development corporations) in other markets do, they come calling,” he said. “And that’s what Colorado Springs did with our task force. We found out they were looking at Albuquerque, so we made an offer to stay here.”
That offer – a package of city and community incentives – has not been accepted, he said.
“They haven’t accepted the incentives package,” he said. “They aren’t accepting either. I don’t know if we’ll continue to work on it. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. They decided not to do anything for now, to stay here, but I think they are leaving their options open. I think these guys have gone limp on us. They needed to make a decision, but they just bought themselves more time.”
Kathy Guadagnoli is one of a group of private citizens who decided to do something to sway the board’s decision to stay in Colorado Springs. After hearing about the efforts by the city, she said she wanted to help as well.
“I thought that was so great,” Guadagnoli said. “We can’t afford to lose the PRCA. So I thought they could have free advertising, so everyone could hear it. I made some phone calls, and everyone agreed.”
“Everyone” included Clear Channel Colorado Springs, a group of four radio stations that agreed to offer free advertising for two years.
“Clear Channel would like to support the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame,” read a press release from the group of radio stations. “We feel they are an integral part of the community, and their heritage presence in the market is irreplaceable. This is why we are dismayed to hear of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame plans to relocate from Colorado Springs.”
The radio station offered 730 spots a year, two spots a day, for a promotional value of $386,900 for two years.
Citadel Broadcasting Co. also joined the effort, offering 750 public service announcements annually from June 1, 2006 to May 1, 2008.
“Citadel Broadcasting Co. is pleased to join the campaign to keep the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame here in Colorado Springs,” said Brenda Goodrich, vice president of Citadel. “A total of 1,500 PSA’s could air on Citadel’s cluster of stations at a total value of over $100,000.”
Guadagnoli, who owns Cowboys Nightclub with her husband, Sam, provided an incentive of her own: $1 from all concert sales at Cowboys would be donated to the Hall of Fame.
“I hope this will be the icing on the cake,” she said. “Why? Because we care. Everyone wants the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame to stay here. I commend both of them (Clear Channel and Citadel) for this great effort.
“We can’t afford to lose this. We’re a tourist town. I’m just really happy that the city put together this package to show that the people in Colorado Springs really do care.”
Despite the efforts of Guadaganoli, the city and other private citizens, the decision to suspend the move came because the Hall of Fame balked at the decision.
The decision from the PRCA Board of Directors came one day after the 14-member Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Board of Trustees voted unanimously to keep the Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs. This action was presented to the PRCA Board on Tuesday.
“In light of actions taken by the Board of Trustees of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the PRCA Board of Directors has voted to suspend consideration of relocation of its headquarters,” Feller said.
The PRCA Board of Directors voted in February to accept the New Mexico governor’s offer that included $17 million in incentives and a promise of a $30 million arena near the PRCA’s new location. But the moving vans were held up by a legal issue: the Hall of Fame is a separate, nonprofit entity and also had to vote in favor of the move.
When the hall’s board of trustees voted unanimously to stay in the Springs, the PRCA also chose to stay.
While other states might still court the PRCA, New Mexico is no longer offering its sweetheart deal. After the Tuesday vote, Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew the New Mexico offer.
“With the vote of the board, we have withdrawn the offer to the PRCA,” said Jon Goldstein, a spokesman for the governor’s office. “The deal is off the table.”
Sources close to the PRCA say the organization is still in negotiations with the city to accept incentives packages that included tax-exempt bonds and grants of up to $2 million from community leaders and civic organizations.