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Bulls thunder into Freedom Hall

Entertainment Staff • Feb 17, 2014 at 9:46 AM

The rules are simple. Place a wiry 150-pound cowboy on the back of a hulking, snorting temperamental 2,000-pound bull and see if he can ride the beast for an eternal eight seconds with one hand strapped to the bull’s massive backside.

Headquartered in Colorado, Professional Bull Riders Inc. was created in 1992 when a group of 20 visionary bull riders broke away from the traditional rodeo scene seeking mainstream attention for the sport of professional bull riding. They felt that, as the most popular event at a rodeo, bull riding deserved to be in the limelight and could easily stand alone. Each rider invested a hard-earned $1,000, a few of them borrowing from family and friends, to start the PBR.

In early 2007, Spire Capital Partners finalized a deal with the PBR board of directors to acquire the interests of many of the retired founding riders and invest in the growth of the organization. Those first 20 bull riders had turned their $1,000 into millions. Owned today by 44 cowboys, management and Spire Capital, the PBR continues to establish milestones in organizational revenue, bull rider earnings, record-breaking performances and media attention. It still relishes the title of being the fastest-growing sport in the country.

The PBR’s Touring Pro Division, the minor-league tour of the PBR, replacing the Challenger, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Discovery Tours, will make a stop at Johnson City’s Freedom Hall Civic Center at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $50, $32, $23 and $18.

As with the previous minor-league tours, the Touring Pro Division offers up-and-coming bull riders and riders not competing on the elite Built Ford Tough Series the opportunity to compete in PBR-sanctioned events while earning money to qualify them for the BFTS and the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals.

More than 1,200 bull riders from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico hold PBR memberships. They compete in more than 300 bull riding events per year on either the elite tour, which is the Built Ford Tough Series, the Touring Pro Division or the PBR International circuits (PBR Australia, PBR Brazil, PBR Canada and PBR Mexico). The ultimate goal for PBR athletes each year is to qualify for the prestigious PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, where the coveted title of PBR World Champion is decided.

The combination of raw sport and quality entertainment has propelled the PBR to strong growth in live attendance as well. In 1995, 310,000 fans attended PBR events across the nation. Today, the PBR attracts over 1.5 million live event attendees each year with its multi-tiered event structure.

Professional bull riding is a fierce, rough and grueling sport with roots deeply embedded in American culture. It’s America’s original extreme sport. The PBR has evolved into a captivating and adrenaline-charged sporting event that features an all-star cast of the greatest bull riders and bucking bulls in the world.

For tickets, call (423) 461-4884 or email tickets@freedomhall-tn.com.

To find out more about the PBR, visit www.pbrnow.com.

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