PBR will buck for TV with no fans at Lazy E Arena
The PBR will resume this weekend for TV only with no fans from the Lazy E Arena and Ranch near Guthrie.
About 140 people — PBR staff, TV production crew, medical staff, bull riders and stock contractors — will stay in RVs on the Lazy E grounds during the weekend event. Except for a few individuals who live nearby, no one will be allowed to leave due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
There will be no contact with the Guthrie community by bull riders or PBR staff, said Dan Wall, vice president and general manager of the Lazy E Ranch and Arena. The Lazy E will provide food, prepared in house or catered, and basic necessities for everyone on the grounds, he said.
The PBR was supposed to be bucking in Albuquerque this weekend but instead will be broadcasting Saturday and Sunday on the CBS Sports Network from the Lazy E Arena. Saturday night's broadcast will be tape delayed from two hours earlier, but Sunday's bull riding will be shown live. Other PBR Unleash the Beast telecasts from the Lazy E Arena are set for May 9-10 and May 16-17.
"The Lazy E, an iconic western sports arena and host of some of the PBR's first-ever events, is an ideal venue to execute our return-to-competition plan in a safe and responsible way," said Sean Gleason, chief executive officer of the PBR. "The grounds are expansive, featuring hundreds of acres and more than 450 RV spaces, helping us ensure we meet all social distancing guidelines and house everyone involved in the event on-site."
The PBR said most individuals will return home after this weekend's bull riding and come back in two weeks for the next event, but a few will stay on the Lazy E grounds through May 16-17.
The Lazy E Arena and Ranch is privately owned and outside any city limits, but Wall said local, county and state officials were consulted in the planning.
"We went through extreme measures to make sure we were cooperating with the city of Guthrie," Wall said. "Technically, we could have rolled in and shot this and nobody would have ever known, but that's not the Lazy E way of doing business. We are a big part of the community and the community is a big part of us.
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"We would not intentionally do anything to put our community at harm."
The PBR and the Lazy E developed a 29-page action and safety plan that was given to local and state officials for review, he said.
The plan "was vetted by a large number of people to make sure every possible safety precaution that could be taken was employed," Wall said.
Everyone involved in the event will be organized into working groups of 10 or less (six being the average size), and will not have contact with other working groups. Members of each group will wear color-coded wristbands as identification.
To get access to the Lazy E Arena and Ranch grounds when they first arrive, everyone must go through a health screening, which will include a CDC questionnaire and temperature check.
"We are all trying to do our best to mitigate this beast we are fighting against," Wall said. "We put extreme measures in place, including daily health screenings."
Anyone showing up with COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated. In addition to daily medical screenings, food and other supplies entering the grounds will be sanitized.
The PBR, headquartered in Pueblo, Colorado, retrofitted its 3D printer to make respirator masks for all of the staff and crew to wear at the Lazy E. The organization is continuing to print masks and providing them for Colorado hospitals.
The PBR plans to reconfigure key elements of its broadcasts at the Lazy E Arena to allow for a skeleton-crew production, including use of robotic cameras, and relocating judges and TV announcers away from the field of play.
The number of support personnel for telecasts will be reduced, including the number of stock contractors. All of the stock contractors will be from Oklahoma.
All participants will drive to Guthrie, avoiding air travel and public transportation. All riders, bull stock contractors and staff have signed a social responsibility pledge to abide by workflow, process, hygiene, sanitary and separation guidelines.
Wall said eight bull riders who would have been contestants had to be replaced because they are from states on Gov. Kevin Stitt's travel ban.
The PBR hopes to return to its 2020 scheduled tour for the second half of the season, but the Lazy E Arena could be the venue for future bull riding events this summer depending on the COVID-19 situation.
The PBR hasn't held an Unleash the Beast event since the March 14-15 bull riding in Duluth, Georgia. The PBR missed stops in Glendale, Arizona; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Billings, Montana, because of the shutdown.