It's official: Canadian Finals Rodeo riding off to Saskatoon next year
After years as a local fixture, CFR will be held in Edmonton for final time this fall
The Canadian Finals Rodeo will be held in Edmonton for the final time this fall, then will move to Saskatoon in 2017.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) and the city of Saskatoon have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the huge event move to Saskatchewan until at least 2019.
The current contract between the rodeo association and Edmonton Northlands expires at the end of 2016.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was quick to gloat about the change on twitter.
The city, Northlands and the Oilers Entertainment Group made a final offer in March to renew the contract, but the bid was rejected. That opened the door for proposals from several cities that had expressed interest in hosting the event.
"It's been a long time coming," said Pascal DelGuercio, a member of the CPRA negotiating committee. "We are coming to the end of our 43-year term in Edmonton. And we have tried our best to stay in Edmonton. That, of course, didn't work out for us. We had four other locations that were interested in hosting ... the finals. It was Saskatoon that always rose to the top during our search for a new host."
DelGuercio said money was not the stumbling block in negotiations between Edmonton and the CPRA.
"I think the dollars could have been probably worked out," he said. "But having it in Edmonton in the past, we didn't have control of the production of the event. We just feel it could be probably be a little more professionally presented. Along with, we'd have to probably ... give away our CFR rights. Which were two big, big stumbling blocks the association didn't feel comfortable with."
Todd Brandt, president and chief executive of Tourism Saskatoon, said Thursday in a statement his city is thrilled to be taking over the reins.
"Saskatoon is an excellent host destination for the Canadian Finals Rodeo starting in 2017," Brandt said. "We look forward to emulating the many popular events that are synonymous with the CFR, but blending in our own Saskatoon flavour."
The CPRA has tried for years to grow the sport, DelGuercio said, and found its ability to do that was somewhat limited in Edmonton.
He said 63 per cent of CFR spectators come from rural communities.
"We do not feel like we'll lose a large number of them."