Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Tulsa's BOK Center hosts Professional Bull Riders' 'Unleash the Beast,' reveals COVID-19 protocols
TULSA – For the 16th consecutive season, the Professional Bull Riders' elite "Unleash The Beast" will buck into Tulsa's BOK Center, with the PBR Express Ranches Invitational bringing the rodeo action Oct. 10-11 to the arena.
Tickets range from $18 to $113 and are available online at www.bokcenter.com and at www.pbr.com.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the event’s organizers have placed a strong focus on the health and safety of its guests, employees and competitors. The PBR Express Ranches Invitational will feature a multitude of preventative measures as advised by the Tulsa Health Department and the Center for Disease Control, according to a news release.
Through the dual activation of ASM Global’s “VenueShield” and the PBR’s “Be Cowboy Safe” guidelines, both BOK Center and PBR bring a wide array of resources and experience to enhance the safety of guests.
ASM Global’s “VenueShield” is an advanced environmental hygiene and operational protocol that has been developed for more than 325 ASM facilities around the world. All protocols are aligned with public health authorities, medical and industry experts, according to the news release. ASM Global, which manages BOK Center, is a leading venue management and services company.
VenueShield, which reduces physical touch points, increases venue sanitization and cleanliness, and provides various health monitoring guidelines and services, will be combined with PBR’s “Be Cowboy Safe” protocols for live events
Both plans were first implemented jointly in July, when PBR pioneered the return of fan-attended professional sporting events in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, which is also an ASM Global venue.
ASM Global’s “VenueShield" and PBR's "Be Cowboy Safe" protocols for live events include, but are not limited to:
- All fans as well as staff and competitors will be required to wear face masks inside BOK Center. This will be strictly enforced.
- All staff members will be temperature screened prior to entering BOK Center.
- All staff members will be required to wear face masks inside BOK Center, along with any other personal protective equipment necessary dependent upon job function.
- ASM Tulsa staff has been trained and will be actively utilizing new methods of sanitation, wiping down surfaces after use, frequent hand washing, changing out masks regularly and more.
- All PBR staff, riders and stock contractors will be required to take a COVID-19 medical test prior to traveling to Tulsa. They will also be subject to additional tests at any time, including daily temperature checks prior to entering BOK Center.
- PBR will only sell up to 50% of arena capacity to separate fans.
- All fans will be in pod seating, which increases distancing and minimizes fan crossover when entering and exiting their seats. Fans must purchase all tickets in a selected pod group, available in select section groupings of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 seats.
- Reduction of point of sale, box office and merchandise terminals to promote social distancing.
- “Touchless” fan experience including adjusted methods of ingress and security checks, prepackaged food & beverage, increased informational signage and one-way areas.
- A focus on digital ticketing and cashless transactions. Event tickets will be limited in order to promote social distancing.
- Increased digital signage throughout the venue reminding patrons of the importance of social distancing when possible and washing hands frequently.
- Safety barriers at all food and beverage points of sale inside the venue.
- Increased sanitization of high-contact areas including bathrooms, concourses, concession stands, elevators, dining areas, and the box office at BOK Center.
- Ample hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the venue in high touch point areas to promote hand hygiene.
- Elimination of promotional handouts.
Beginning with this event, BOK Center also will be implementing a new clear bag policy for fans that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into the venue. Fans are permitted to enter the facility with one clear bag per person that does not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches or a one-gallon clear plastic bag. Fans are also permitted one personal item per person such as small purses or clutches that aren't clear and are no larger than 5 inches by 8 inches, according to the news release.
Prior to mass-gathering restrictions implemented due to coronavirus, PBR’s "Unleash The Beast" last competed in front of fans in Little Rock, Ark., at Simmons Bank Arena March 6-7. The sport then had closed events in Duluth, Georgia, at Infinite Energy Arena March 14-15, followed by three event weekends in Logan County, beginning April 25.
On July 10-12, PBR welcomed back fans for the first time in Sioux Falls for the playoffs of a special team tournament, the groundbreaking PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge, as well as a Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event. In the subsequent weeks, PBR has held fan-attended elite tour events in Guthrie, Bismarck, North Dakota, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
This year’s competition at BOK Center will mark the 16th consecutive year the PBR’s elite "Unleash The Beast" has stopped in Tulsa.
Historically, of the past 11 World Champions, seven have won the Tulsa event en route to capturing the coveted gold buckle. Those riders are: Jess Lockwood (2019 and 2017); Cooper Davis (2016); J.B. Mauney (2015, 2013); Renato Nunes (2010); and KodyLostroh (2009).
In 2019, Lockwood continued this historic streak. Going a perfect 3-for-3, the Montana man clinched the victory with a massive 90-point ride aboard Biker Bob. Courtesy of his dominant showing in the Sooner State, Lockwood netted enough world points to overtake the world No. 1 ranking.
Following the Tulsa tour stop, while Lockwood won the subsequent event in Houston, Texas, he was unable to hold off a dominant Jose VitorLemefor the regular season title, entering the World Finals No. 2 to the resilient Brazilian,closely followed by No. 3 Chase Outlaw.
In one of the tightest world title races in league history, after a ride-for-ride slugfest throughout the five days of action at the season-culminating Unleash The Beast World Finals, Lockwood completed one of the league’s biggest comebacks to eclipse Leme in the standings, becoming the youngest two-time PBR World Champion in league history.
Moreover, Lockwood’s 2019 victory in BOK Center marked the second time he won a PBR premier series event in Tulsa, first topping the event in 2017 en route to his first World Championship.
Lockwood is one of just three riders to win the Tulsa event in multiple seasons, joining Mauney who won in 2015 and 2013, and Lostroh who claimed titles in 2012 and 2009.
Other past winners in Tulsa include: Leme (2018); Gage Gay (2014); Lostroh (2012); Fabiano Vieira (2011); Justin McBride (2008); Adriano Moraes (2007); Kasey Hayes (2006); and Edgard Oliveira (2005).
The 2019 edition of the "Unleash The Beast" stop in Tulsa also featured a standout performance from Hulbert, Oklahoma’s Ryan Dirteater, though he was injured on his final bull.
After delivering a flawless, 3-for-3 effort in front of his home state crowd, Dirteater, who finished fourth overall, was stepped on by M.A.G.A. resulting in a collapsed lung, broken ribs and lacerated liver. Sidelined for three months, Dirteater did not return to competition until November for the World Finals.
The popular rider known as “The Cherokee Kid” is anticipated to make his triumphant return to BOK Center this October, an event that will have added significance.
After announcing at the start of the season his plans to retire at year’s end, the Tulsa stop will mark Dirteater’s last premier series event in Oklahoma. Dirteater is currently sidelined after sustaining a broken collarbone, which required subsequent surgery, in mid-August in Guthrie, according to the news release.
In addition to holding the main Unleash The Beast event, the PBR elite tour event in Tulsa in 2019 also featured an American Bucking Bull Inc. Classic event.
Showcasing some of the sport’s top-rising bovine athletes between three and four years of age, the ABBI Classic event is during Round 1 of the tour stop as the bulls go head-to-head for a prize purse of more than $35,000, with the winning bull collecting more than $10,000.
Last season, Chiseled of Ardmore’s D&H Cattle Co. took the top prize, marked an impressive 90 points courtesy of his 4.61-second buckoff of Joe Frost.
Roughly a year later, Chiseled is currently the No. 1-ranked bovine athlete in the YETI PBR World Champion Bull race.
Thus far, the powerful bovine athlete is a four-time YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the event in 2020, including erupting for a season-high 47-point bull score in July when he bucked off Boudreaux Campbell in a swift 5.6 seconds during the final games of the Monster Energy Team Challenge. In August in Salt Lake City, Chiseled paired with world No. 1. Jose Vitor Leme for the season’s top ride of 94 points. Chiseled leads No. 2 Smooth Operator by a substantial 0.28 points in the standings.
The PBR Express Ranches Invitational is crucial in the championship race to the PBR World Finals in early November, awarding a gold buckle and million-dollar bonus to the world’s best bull rider. The riders competing in Tulsa are anticipated to be led by current world No. 1 Leme, along with Oklahoma’s own Dirteater, Colten Jesse (Konawa) and Brennon Eldred (Sulphur).
The bull riding action begins with Round 1 at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 10, concluding with Round 2 and the championship round at 1:45 p.m. Oct. 11. All 35 bull riders will get on one bull each in Round 1 and 2. Following Round 2 on Sunday afternoon, the riders’ individual two-round scores will be totaled with the Top 15 advancing to the championship round for one more out and a chance at the event title. Additionally, Saturday evening’s event will feature the ABBI Classic Round in tandem with Round 1.
PBR Elite Seats are available for avid fans who want an exclusive VIP experience while enjoying the world’s top bull riding circuit. These tickets offer premium seats, a question and answer presentation with some of the top bull riders and stock contractors in the world, a special photo opportunity after the event on the Can-Am Cage, and souvenir credential and lanyard. Social distancing will be practiced at all times throughout the experience.