September 21, 2017 8:00 am

CFR boss says chance of rodeo at Rogers Place in 2018 is ‘reasonable’

Sam Kelts competes at the Canadian Finals Rodeo Saturday, November 9, 2013.

Global News

The man in charge of operating the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) described the chances of CFR 45 being downtown next year at Rogers Place as “reasonable.”

That’s a far cry from a couple of years ago when the CFR took a long and winding road from severing ties with Edmonton and landing in Saskatoon, only to have CFR 44 return to Northlands Coliseum this November.

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Couple that with city council’s decision to make CFR 44 the last event ever before the city takes over control of the Coliseum at the end of the calendar year, and that adds some urgency to the talks Jeff Robson has been having in our city.

“We’ve been endeavoring to continue conversation since last October but there’s obviously there’s conversations going on in a couple of other locations as well,” the CFR boss said.

READ MORE: Northlands sees CFR and PBR as ‘different products’ but hopes to coordinate better in future

“Really the ball’s in their court now,” he said of his discussions with Bob Nicholson and the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG).  “They talked about the fact in relative terms to the downtown arena ‘hey we’d love to continue this chat.’ That’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been keeping the dialog open and ongoing.”

Robson was in Edmonton this past weekend and agrees there is some progress.

“Yeah I would say we’re continuing to talk. What I think is important right now is to get the vision straight. So that’s what I think we’ve been spending more time on, it’s not necessarily the contract, but more the vision.”

READ MORE: It’s official: Canadian Finals Rodeo will stay in Edmonton through 2018

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Global Cup is at Rogers Place Nov. 9-11. Robson doesn’t see that as something that would get in the way of an agreement.

“If their desire to host PBR remains strong I think that’s fine. I think our desire to make sure that we’re staying in conjunction with Farmfair International and CFR, I think those two things work really well together but I don’t have any control whether they go PBR or don’t.”

An earlier breakdown between the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association happened over sponsorship, prize money and other disagreements between the cowboys and OEG. Robson said that’s history, and hasn’t even been brought up since talks resumed.

Time is ticking, and Robson said the goal is to have a decision on the 2018 CFR done by the end of December.

“Obviously by the end of this calender year I would say we’d better have something in place definitively. Hopefully sooner. But I think our fans are going to want to know, our six-pack ticket holders are extremely important to our success so I think it’s important that we know where we’re going and what that looks like.”

READ MORE: Farmfair sees record attendance, CFR sees ‘strong showing’ in Edmonton

He added that once mid November hits, OEG will have a good assessment of how PBR worked.

His message to city council? The combo of CFR and Farmfair International is worth $50 million in economic spin off.

“We’d like to see that continue.”

Canadian Finals Rodeo is at the Coliseum for the last time, Nov. 8-12.



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