AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA) held its kickoff celebration tonight for the WRCA 2023 World Championship Ranch Rodeo with the first events starting Thursday morning at the Amarillo Civic Center.

The WRCA’s rules and sanctioning chairman Gary Morton spoke on the rodeo, saying that it is here to stay in Amarillo at least for 2024.

Morton said without improvements to the Civic Center, they have to look at it on a yearly basis.

“This is our home, and it would be hard to move. We have employees, we have offices here, all those things. And I think we’re associated with the city of Amarillo in a good way, but there are other options open,” said Morton.

Hope Stokes, the director of marketing for the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the rodeo is one of the city’s biggest events.

“They bring in approximately $7 million about $6.7 million in direct spending,” said Stokes. “If you look around town this week, you’re gonna see cowboys in restaurants. It’s the busiest day of the year for dry cleaners, they’ll be taking their families out to attractions and really enjoying our city. They’re going to take that information home and tell their friends and family about Amarillo, and that will help support tourism throughout the rest of the year as well.”

Morton said the Civic Center arena seats about 48,000 people, and the WRCA has received offers from other cities with facilities more equipped to host larger events.

“There’s too many variables out there to say that one way or the other but we just have to look at it and keep an open mind,” he said. “Of course, we’re not entertaining any proposals elsewhere.”

Morton continued saying that the WRCA will have a lot to consider in the coming years, but he noted that even if improvements were underway at the Amarillo Civic Center, they would take years to finish.

“It’s business at the end of the day, and while it is home for the WRCA, we love them, and we’ll do everything we can possible to keep them here. There’s a possibility they may move, and if they do, we’ll be sure to look for other avenues and other businesses we can bring in to help make up for that income,” said Stokes.

Over the weekend, there will be trade shows during the WRCA Rodeo and about 300 vendors. Morton said 2023 is the biggest year yet, with 25 teams competing.

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