Loss of WestWorld of Scottsdale’s USTRC event raises questions

A few days ago, we received a message from the United States Team Roping Championships that the iconic Lasso del Sol Team Roping competition had been canceled. The cancellation of this event, held in Scottsdale during the New Year’s weekend for over 20 years, has raised concern from ropers across the Southwest, as it is a qualifier for the USTRC National Finals held in Oklahoma each October.

Joanne "Copper" Phillips

Joanne “Copper” Phillips

Calls to find out why the cancellation happened were made to Kurt Bray, USTRC president, as well as the WestWorld event planners. Interesting results.

Both parties said a change of dates by Barrett-Jackson caused a domino effect in date changes for booked events. The car auction event switched dates with the Sun Country Circuit. That caused a bump in the Arizona Quarter Horse Association Show, which is held at the same time as the National Livestock Show in Phoenix.

Sun Country and the Quarter Horse show teamed up some dates, but the Quarter Horse Show had to start earlier to make their dates coincide with the National Livestock Show, which bumped the USTRC from their traditional New Year’s weekend dates. Worse yet, USTRC cannot be guaranteed the traditional New Year’s weekend for 2016-17 either; since WestWorld is built on federal land, only those events that have national reputation and draw and that bring in big bucks to the city may be booked for multiyear contracts.

That means just the Arabian Horse Show and the Barrett-Jackson car show. All other events are booked annually around those contract dates.

That means these two events effectively control the scheduling of every other booking at the facility, hence the cascading of rescheduling when Barrett-Jackson was allowed to change their dates. This also means that our revenue stream is almost certainly impacted when a date change knocks out another scheduled event or prohibits the scheduling of anticipated events.

With taxpayers subsidizing operation costs at WestWorld and a promotion and marketing company hired to bring events in, we have a real problem. When event organizers realize their dates can be bumped by either of the big two events’ date changes, they will likely choose other venues that will lock in their dates, even if for just one year out.

When your dates cannot be guaranteed, what motivation do you have to book at WestWorld? Most event schedules are not very flexible, working around other events and organization needs. For the USTRC, Monday through Wednesday dates won’t work for ropers who can’t take off work to rope, which is why the holiday weekend has always been used.

This all translates into significant loss of revenue for the city. The City Council, city manager, and WestWorld management have control of the contracts with the two major, multiyear contract events. Perhaps a contract clause that prohibits date changes unless the new dates cause no conflict should be a part of those contracts.

As WestWorld hopefully increases their events, this problem will only worsen. Let’s get in front of it and fix it now.

Editor’s note: Ms. Phillips is a resident of Scottsdale

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