SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Professional Bull Riders Monster Energy Team Challenge began on June 5 and will come to an end with the team championships in Sioux Falls this weekend.
After more than a month of team bull riding, the PBR will gather at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center to crown a winner.
“We have gotten great reviews so far. It’s kind of our own summer classic,” PBR’s Chief Marketing Officer Kosha Irby said. “It has been a positive experience for both our riders and fans, and we are excited to return to a public space.”
The PBR has made rider safety a priority especially during a pandemic.
“Our Chief Financial Officer is probably upset with us, as we usually don’t have to buy so much hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies,” Irby said. “Since our event in Duluth, Georgia, we have had no incidents, which is important. It shows we have a good plan.”
The PBR has kept the focus on creating the safest and ‘best possible’ environment not just for the riders, but for the staff as well.
The next step for the PBR is to put fans in the stands and they will do that starting on July 10 in Sioux Falls.
“We have limited seating to 50% capacity, even though it’ll probably be more like 36-40% when you use the pod seating,” Irby said.
Pod seating is where there are two ‘pods’ in one row. Pods are in groups of two or more people and it allows for the groups to not have to walk around other groups to leave the row.
Pod seating will help the social distancing but will lower the numbers. The PREMIER Center can hold more than 9,000 fans for a normal PBR event, however, if they fill 40% capacity, that would put a little more than 3,500 fans in the seats.
The return of fans will add a lot of excitement to more than just the bull riders.
“I’m not sure who is more excited, the riders or the staff,” Irby said. “Our riders can ride a bull in front of their six buddies or in front of 60-70,000 fans, but it’s our staff that builds off the energy of the crowd.”
According to Irby, ticket sales have been pretty good, which makes for more excitement this weekend.
“We’re trying to build a path to normalcy and this is the first step,” Irby said. “There is no ticket plan or map for selling during a pandemic and if there was, it would be worth a lot of money. PBR is trying to take the lead in the return to normalcy.”
Fans can expect some great bull riding along with great value for their ticket Irby said.
“It is exciting! It’s win and advance, it’s like March Madness but with bull riding and if you lose, you go home,” Irby said. “The guys have been talking smack to each other all week saying things like ‘you’d better buy your plane ticket for Saturday when you get knocked out of the challenge’. There is no doubt these cowboys are excited.”
After playing six ‘games’ as the PBR calls them, the Cooper Tires team leads their division with a perfect 6-0 record.
“I can’t call them the favorites, because bull riding is so unpredictable, but the Cooper Tires team is riding lights out,” Irby said. “We could see a Saturday surprise as a lot of teams will be trying to dethrone them. The Las Vegas team and Team Pendleton could upset them.”
There will be some great competition for a few thousand fans to watch.
The PBR has created several ways to keep the fans safe as well.
“We have done several things such as pod seating, more hand sanitizing stations, digital ticketing to get rid of an exchange at the box office,” Irby said. “We are trying to do everything we can to create the safest environment for not just the riders, but the fans too.”
This weekend’s event is a three-day event that will feature the team challenge championships, plus the Sioux Falls Invitational.
“Following the championship Sunday, the Sioux Falls Invitational will be an individual event that’ll feature 20-25 of the world’s best riders,” Irby said. “It’ll give the fans some great value for their ticket.”
Tickets start at just $15 and you can find tickets to this weekend’s event by visiting The PBR Tickets Page.
“I hope fans will give it a try on Friday and then maybe come back on Saturday and Sunday,” Irby said. “I just hope fans give us a try and see how well we’ve done to keep people safe.”
The PBR is working to line up a list of cities that they can travel to after this weekend, but for now, the bull riding community will have their eyes on Sioux Falls.
“I hope these fans are excited as they are going to be a part of something big,” Irby said. “Sioux Falls can start the return to normalcy, and that’s exciting when you think about it.”
This weekend’s playoffs will start Friday night and run through Saturday night, with the championship Sunday.
|Friday, July 10||8:00 p.m.||Team Challenge Wild Card Games|
|Saturday, July 11||7:00 p.m.||Team Challenge Playoffs Round 2|
|Sunday, July 12||12:30 p.m.||Monster Energy Team Challenge Championship|
|Sunday, July 12||1:30 p.m.||Sioux Falls Invitational|
You can learn more about the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge by visiting the team challenge page on PBR’s website.