The contrast between Colorado Springs and Pueblo was startling, and fitting, said Randy Bernard, the Chief Executive Officer of Professional Bull Riders Inc. Bernard and 44 of PBR’s employees boarded a bus in the alley behind their offices in the US Bank building on Tejon Street on Wednesday. Their destination was Pueblo, where a sheriff’s car — with siren wailing — escorted the bus to the city’s historic riverwalk. “I didn’t know if somebody on the bus had outstanding warrants or we had an escort,” Bernard said. “Turns out it was quite a reception.” PBR officially announced its move in 2007 from Colorado Springs to Pueblo during a ceremony at the site of its future office on the riverwalk. Bernard also said PBR’s event that was at the World Arena — the U.S. Army Invitational on April 15-17 — will move to Pueblo in 2006. PBR’s offices have been in Colorado Springs since Bernard became CEO in 1995, three years after 20 marquee bull riders formed the organization. When Bernard talked of moving PBR, other cities showed more interest than Colorado Springs, he said. “Other cities worked hard to get our business,” Bernard said. “Kansas City and Reno (Nev.) talked to us. But the (Colorado Springs) mayor (Lionel Rivera) didn’t seem interested. How you treat people matters a lot. On a scale of one to 10, I’d give him a one. I don’t think the city had the resources to offer us what others did, but I also think a lot of other sports will have a chance to leave and I don’t think the city officials have a plan on how to keep them.” “(PBR) is an important organization nationally,” vice-mayor Larry Small said. “They were responsible for a lot of traffic coming into the city.” Pueblo Economic Development Corporation helped lure PBR south with 33,000 square feet of office space that will be rent-free. “That’s three floors we need for offices,” Bernard said. “It’s a four-story building and we’re buying the bottom floor (for $1.65 million) that will be a western-style restaurant, bar and gift shop.” Rivera took exception to Bernard’s claim that he wasn’t interested in keeping PBR in Colorado Springs. “It’s very disappointing to lose them,” Rivera, who is vacationing in Florida, said. “I told them we’d do everything within our limits to keep them here. Other people were offering free office space and I said, ‘That’s not something we have in our inventory.’” PBR, which plans to open offices in Mexico and Brazil, has four levels of competition. The top level, the Built Ford Tough series, has 31 events and is seen by more than 90 million television viewers. A Built Ford Tough event is at Pueblo on Saturday at the state fair. “We’ve been working on this move for about a year, but Pueblo only came into the picture two or three months ago,” Bernard said. “They were very aggressive.” PBR’s presence should help jump-start the riverwalk’s economy, and that of Pueblo’s historic district. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Springs Gazette has disabled the comments for this article.