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Economic Impact Looms as Ranger College Rodeo Gallops Out of Ranger, into Brownwood

After years at the Ranger rodeo arena, the annual Ranger College Rodeo is saddling up and galloping on over to Brownwood.
After years at the Ranger rodeo arena, the annual Ranger College Rodeo is saddling up and galloping on over to Brownwood.

And in a tight-knit community that looks forward to the economic impact of the event each year, the move is causing some controversy.

"If you're interested in rodeo, these are the top cowboys in Texas and all over the United States," said Coach Llew Rust.

So why move the cash cow from it's hometown to a new location sixty-eight miles away?

Dollars and cents.

According to Rust, it costs about $35,000 to put on a rodeo this large.

"It's hard to draw a big enough crowd to a college rodeo to be able to break even so you have to go out and get sponsor dollars," he explained. "In Brownwood, there's a bigger area to draw from."

Rust also said the college wants to promote its campus in Early with the move.

About 500 people used to pack the stands at Ranger arena in years past, but Rust said the move to Brownwood will likely double that number.

But in a town of less than 2,500 people, any business is good business -- and some in Ranger are dreading the rodeo's decision to move.

"It's going to be a disappointment to a lot of people that it won't be here this year," said Mary Wells, Ranger city secretary.

"From the grocery store to the motel to the liquor stores and convenience stores, it impacted every business in town, some way or another," said Steve Gerdes, who owns Cowboy Spirits in Ranger.

But even retailers understand when it comes down to cash.

"It was a good business decision for the college, I'm not faulting them at all. They have to look out for their financial best interests," Gerdes added.

And while it's a blow to this rural rodeo community, they're not giving up hope that they can rope it right back in.

"We hope it'll come back to Ranger!" Wells said.

The Ranger College Rodeo is taking place Feb. 28th, March 1st & 2nd at the Brownwood Rodeo Arena.

It costs $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.

There will be more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls taking part in the event this year.
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