Bull riders to end PBR season here
There's a new Pro Bowl coming to town.
Professional Bull Riders will hold its season-ending all-star event in two shows at the Blaisdell Arena on Nov. 17 and 18 after a show on Maui the previous week. The PBR plans to make the event an annual thing.
But unlike the NFL's Pro Bowl, the only thing that will keep these elite athletes away from paradise will be legitimate injury.
"I think everybody wants to skip the finals and come straight to Hawaii," two-time PBR champion Chris Shivers said at a news conference in Waikiki yesterday.
Shivers, 27, has made more than $3 million in nearly a decade in the sport and plans on making his second trip to the Islands in November. To do so, he will have to qualify -- as well as stay healthy -- as one of the top 15 athletes on the circuit at the end of the regular season or be one of five cowboys selected in fan voting throughout the year. The 20 cowboys will compete for $80,000, while most PBR events dish out $125,000 for 45 athletes.
Shivers is ranked eighth going into this weekend's event in Chicago, the first time the circuit will stop there. It is the tour's 21st of 29 stops not including the Hawaii shows. The PBR World Finals are scheduled for Nov. 2-5 in Las Vegas.
Shivers and his peers will only be half the show.
The PBR plans on flying in between 20 and 40 of its most successful bulls for the event. Logistical problems like the state's quarantine laws and finding space for separate pens for each animal in the limited space around the Blaisdell during the event have to be solved.
"It is definitely not a normal process or expense," PBR Chief Operating Officer Sean Gleason said. "It certainly hasn't been done very often. We're still working on the particulars."
Gleason has been at his job six years, overseeing what he says is the fastest-growing sport in America. He announced yesterday that the PBR will follow NFL games on FOX in the fall, and that the Cheesburger Island Style Hawaii All-Star Challenge will be advertised heavily.
Honolulu has never hosted a PBR event, and the Blaisdell is more than a few seats shy of the Target Center in Minneapolis or the American Airlines Center in Dallas, but those are two reasons why the PBR chose it.
"It is a little smaller venue than what we usually play," Gleason said. "But it is the great intimate setting we were looking for. We are always looking to expand into new markets and introduce our sport to new people."
Gleason hopes that anyone who gives his sport a chance will walk away entertained. And there is no chance that any of his athletes will give half an effort on their trip to vacationland.
"We can't exactly tell the bulls to go easy because it is the last event of the year," Gleason said. "Any time you jump on a bull you are hanging on for your life."