A man who was introduced as "the cowboy's cowboy" at at rodeo event last year says he would be sad to see the marquee Canadian Rodeo Finals leave his home province.
"We put the CFR in a great place, said Scott Schiffner. a two-time CFR bull-riding champion from Strathmore, Alta. "Edmonton has been a great place for it, but if it's not going to fit there in the future, we need to put it in front of the best fans we can find in the world to open the doors to more exposure."
Schiffner is vying for one the 12 bull-riding spots at this year's CFR. but it could be the last chance he has to compete at the event in Edmonton.
This week, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association passed on an offer from the city, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Northlands to renew the contract for another five years, after the current contract expires in 2016. General manager Dan Eddy said prize money and uncertainty over ticket prices were the deal breakers.
Schiffner, is not ready to "jump up and down and say it's going to leave Edmonton," but he said there are financial pressures on the sport that need to be accounted for.
"It looks like a really good deal on paper right now," Schiffner said of the offer that was rejected, "But we have to always look at the future and see if it's the best thing in the end."
Schiffner won CFR bull-riding prizes in 2001 and 2012. He said the first win netted him around $4,000 and the second around $10,000.
"It seems like a big increase," he said, "But over that time period of 11 years, you do the math on inflation and diesel fuel and all that, it wasn't a real big increase. And that was after we signed a new deal with Northlands."
Schiffner said the weight of financial constraints keeps many other rodeo riders out of the professional sport.
"I've always said I'm proud to say I'm a Canadian cowboy and this is what I've done for a living," he said. "But I shouldn't really be proud to say that I'm one of the few guys that's made a living at it"
"It is a little bit disheartening that the purse is a really big part of it."
Schiffner said that if the CFR moves, it will have to go somewhere where it can attract the most fans and the highest number of sponsors.
He wants rodeo to remain a sustainable sport for years to come.
"We're not all just money hungry. We want to see the sport grow."