A crowd gathered on Tuesday at the Westerner to witness the announcement that the Canadian Finals Rodeo will take place in Red Deer this year. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Saddle up Red Deer, the Canadian Finals Rodeo is coming to town.

At a special event Tuesday, Westerner Park, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, announced the city will be the rodeo’s home for the next 10 years.

CFR 45 will be held in Red Deer at the Westerner Park from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.

“This is a great day for rodeo in Canada, and I’m just so happy to be a part of it,” said Terry Cooke, CPRA president. “These organizations in Red Deer have done so much in the last couple months to bring this rodeo to Red Deer.”

Cooke said he realized how serious the chamber and Westerner Park were when they pitched their plan to the CPRA in November.

“It feels so good to be wanted by a community. These guys want us to be here, and we want to be here,” said Cooke. “It’s a good venue, it’s a great city, and the people involved in this have been so good to work with.”

The size of the ENMAX Centrium, which seats about 6,600, but can be expanded to accommodate about 8,000 people, wasn’t a concern for Cooke.

“It’s going to be the hottest ticket in town,” he said. “A building that’s full is way better than a bigger building that’s half-full.”

Robin Bobocel, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the size of the region was never a concern for him.

“I never saw us as an underdog – we were in this to win it,” he said. “It didn’t matter how big our competition was going to be, we were going to take them down.”

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million into Red Deer and the region annually.

“Over 10 years that’s a significant number and the Red Deer and Central Alberta business community will be the direct beneficiaries of that,” said Bobocel.

Bobocel said Red Deer will not waste this “huge opportunity.”

Ben Antifaiff, Westerner Park CEO and general manager, said he believes their offer was the best because the venue and facilities.

“We can house the livestock right on site – all the livestock can be stabled, no livestock is going to have to be trucked on- and off-site. It’s way better … and a lot easier on the animals,” he said.

The week of the CFR will be Rodeo Week, Antifaiff added.

“We want Rodeo Week to involve the community and allow everyone an opportunity to experience something to do with CFR,” he said.

Plans for Rodeo Week are still developing.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the city has tried to position itself as a major sports tourism event destination.

“The infrastructure is here to host the CFR, but above and beyond that is our sense of community spirit and pride, and our demonstrated ability to mobilize around major events,” said Veer.

The city is in preliminary discussions with Westerner and Chamber about its involvement in the rodeo, Veer added.

“Given the substaintial benefit that will come to our local economy and the amount of services that will be requires, we fully expect … a formal announcement will come at some point,” she said.

The CFR has been held in Edmonton since 1974 at the Northlands Coliseum; however, the facility was shut down with the opening of Rogers Place, leaving the event in search of a new home.

Events at the CFR include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

The CFR will be held the week before the annual Agri-Trade Equipment Expo takes over the Westerner.

All tickets will be sold through www.ticketsalberta.com. Ticket price details will be released soon.

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Dean Ray Band performs Tuesday after Westerner Park in Red Deer was announced as the Canadian Finals Rodeo host for the next 10 years. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

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