PUEBLO, Colo. — The Professional Bull Riders is returning to its roots to start the 2021 season at outdoor rodeo venues across the southern United States beginning in Ocala, Florida, Saturday with the two-day Unleash The Beast Tour Monster Energy Invitational.
The season-opening premier series stop begins a three-weekend stand in Florida, followed by three weekends in Texas.
The Florida event this weekend replaces the usual season-opening three-day PBR major at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Montana rider Jake Lockwood will also be competing this weekend. Jake Lockwood was scheduled to ride in Cedar Park, Texas, in a Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event on Friday.
According to PBR officials, Columbia Falls' Matt Triplett won't compete this weekend. It was reported in late October that Triplett would have hip surgery and miss the World Finals.
According to a PBR press release, the circuit will implement the same safety protocols that enabled the sport to hold 20 event weekends in the U.S. in 2020. Thirteen of those events allowed limited spectators in attendance, including a three-day stop in Billings at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in September, and the PBR crowned Jose Vitor Leme as its world champion on schedule in November. The safety protocols include medically testing athletes, staff and crew, social distancing, mask requirements and capping arena capacity to separate fans.
At each outdoor venue, a limited number of tickets are being made available per open-air event.
“Bringing a retro presentation of PBR to outdoor rodeo venues across the country furthers our commitment to putting safety first,” said PBR CEO and Commissioner Sean Gleason in the release. “We’re also keeping our industry employed, helping communities hold events responsibly and providing fans the sport they love in the most exciting way. We’re looking forward to getting back to our roots by bringing the top Western sport to our fans in these intimate outdoor arenas.”
The PBR plans to hold multi-performance events through January and February at outdoor arenas before eventually returning indoors in previously scheduled markets as the latest health and safety guidelines may allow the release states. The Unleash The Beast tour is again scheduled for a performance at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark May 14-16.