NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Every December, the rodeo world converges upon Las Vegas for the annual National Finals Rodeo. The NFR is the last event of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) season, offering a final opportunity for cowboys to lay claim to world championship titles in their respective events.
With so much on the line, the National Finals Rodeo is often referred to as the Super Bowl or World Series of Rodeo, and sells out every year. This year, National Finals Rodeo tickets on the secondary market are the most expensive ever, suggesting that the sport is more popular than ever. Since 1985, the event has been held at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Individual events in the NFR include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The top 15 prize money winners in each event during the PRCA regular season qualify for the NFR, with the leading earner at the end of the NFR taking home a championship title in his event. At the conclusion of the NFR, the World All-Around Rodeo Champion Cowboy award goes to the highest-earning cowboy of the season who has regularly competed in multiple events.
Demand for National Finals Rodeo tickets is always strong, with the event selling out for over 25 consecutive years. In fact, the event is so popular that face value tickets for the full 10 days are only offered through a random drawing. As a result of the event's popularity, the secondary market is always highly competitive when it comes to National Finals Rodeo tickets.
The current average secondary market ticket price for this year's event has hit an all-time high of $276.23, representing a 21% premium over last year's average ticket price of $228.45. In 2012, secondary market tickets carried an average price of $210.62.
During the National Finals Rodeo, Las Vegas undergoes a bit of a transformation, with many of the city's visitors there for the event during the two weeks it's held. Although National Finals Rodeo tickets are scarce, the Vegas casinos and resorts cater to those who can't acquire tickets by offering live broadcasts of the events to go with championship odds and many other wagering options at most sports books. Most of the hotels and arenas also book the world's biggest country music acts while the rodeo is in town, and these Vegas concert tickets are always quite popular. Some of this year's acts include Lady Antebellum, Hank Williams Jr. and Sammy Kershaw.
While Oklahoma City has been trying to reclaim the National Finals Rodeo for a number of years, the NFR has become somewhat institutionalized in Vegas. With the NFR bringing in over 170,000 fans during the 10-day event, it's become the Thomas & Mack Center's biggest client and a great event for the city of Las Vegas. With Vegas serving as a great host for nearly 30 years, the PRCA signed an extension with Las Vegas Events through 2024 earlier this year. As such, the NFR will be staying in Vegas for the foreseeable future.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.