The Professional Bull Riders was one of the first U.S. sports leagues to return to live action during the coronavirus pandemic. Now it also wants to be one of the first to bring fans back as well.
PBR CEO Sean Gleason said on Front Office Sports’ digital interview show Fundamentals that the organization is planning to have fans back at its events in July.
“We’re planning right now to be be back bucking bulls in July. The question is where and how many fans can we have in the building that we go into,” Gleason said. “We have some very specific plans that I can’t divulge the details of today, but we will be back in front of fans in July.”
The PBR suspended its competitions after holding an event on March 15 in front of alongside nearly all of professional sports.
However, it has since returned, holding its “Unleash the Beast” competition on April 25 and 26. It also held the Cooper Tires Invitational on May 9 and 10.
Those events were held at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma in front of no fans. The PBR instituted several protection measures for the athletes and staffers involved, including significant testing and screening, reducing the size of worker groups, making everyone wear masks, and housing everyone on-site in socially distanced trailers.
PBR is scheduled to host another event in Guthrie before moving to Las Vegas, Gleason said. The organization is expected to make an additional announcement soon regarding its additional events.
Typically, the PBR takes a break over the summer. However, this year it will roll out a new format that will see it continue holding events in the next several months and that will be televised live, Gleason said.
Gleason said the PBR has had to “cut every expense that is non-critical to the operation here, because we don’t have any fan revenue,” referencing money from tickets, concessions, and merchandise.
However, PBR does have a media rights deal with CBS, which is “its biggest audience,” Gleason said. “We miss our fans here, but it’s still important that we get these events done.”