Rodeo at Madison Square Garden? Why not? The sport has a long history there, and an offshoot of it, bull riding, has had a spot on the Garden’s January calendar since 2007.
But it has been since November of 1991 that the full, multi-event version has visited the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” something that is set to change next June.
On Monday, organizers plan to announce “The Cowboy Channel's Rodeo New York," an event set for June 19-21, 2020. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday.
Patrick Gottsch, the founder of the channel – which is dedicated to western sports and lifestyle – said he was encouraged by the success the Professional Bull Riders event has had over its 13-year run at the Garden.
“It’s extremely popular,” he said. “We think full rodeo, with all eight events instead of just one event, bull riding, is going to go over really well.”
The hope is to attract fans from the sport’s traditional hotbeds who want to make a New York trip out of it, fans from rural areas in the Northeast and people from the city and suburbs who have not been exposed to rodeo.
“If there’s one thing that rural America really wants to do, to a person, it is reconnect with folks in the city again,” Gottsch said. “There just seems to be a divide between urban and rural America. This is our contribution to try to bring city and country back together again.”
There was a time in the middle of the 20th century when the Garden was the regular home to the world finals, an event older cowboys still recall fondly.
“We started a rodeo in AT&T Stadium called ‘The American,’ more or less the U.S. Open for rodeo, and cowboys just loved it,” Gottsch said. “It was a chance to ride their horses in the Cowboys’ stadium.
“And what everybody kept saying over and over again was, ‘Man, we have to go back to New York; we have to go back to New York.’ It finally came to fruition this year.”
Gottsch said organizers contacted the 65 or so world champions who still are active and got positive responses from 62.
“To have a rodeo back in Madison Square Garden and everyone looking to elevate rodeo and bring rodeo back to the East Coast, this will be a great test,” he said.
“We’re going to New York. We want to bring the very best, all world champions in each event going against each other, with championship stock, the very best stock.”
But wait . . . Aren’t those dates cutting it close if the Knicks host Game 7 of the NBA Finals?
Gottsch said there is a provision in the contract that gives organizers one day to convert the arena if the Knicks still are playing in the week leading up to the event.