A bronc rider keeps his hand up high during his performance. Photo by Scott Ball.
The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo will be held in Freeman Coliseum for its 2021 event. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is cutting a path out of the AT&T Center to the nearby Freeman Coliseum for its 2021 event.

Officials said the need to abide by health and safety precautions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic prompted the change for the event scheduled for Feb. 11-28.

“Our mission of helping educate the youth of Texas is at the forefront of all that we do, and holding our rodeo, livestock show and competitive events is critical for educating future generations,” stated Cody Davenport, executive director & CEO. “In order to comply with current health and safety guidelines, the Freeman Coliseum is the most viable option to hold our event while ensuring we fulfill our mission.”

Though many public events have been canceled through the coming months, San Antonio’s rodeo planners say the Junior Livestock Show will go on in 2021. The rodeo will host exhibitors from throughout the state and youth will compete in agriculture events. The carnival also will operate. 

The coliseum, built in 1949, hosted the rodeo for more than 50 years before the event moved in 2003 to the adjacent AT&T Center

Opened in November 2002, the AT&T Center was built through a public-private partnership between Bexar County, the Coliseum Advisory Board, the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, and Spurs Sports and Entertainment. 

Every February for the past 19 years, the polished-wood basketball floor that hosts the San Antonio Spurs has become a dirt-covered pitch for rodeo events such as mutton-bustin’ and barrel racing during the 18 days the rodeo occupied the arena. 

During normal operations, and without social distancing protocols in place, the Freeman Coliseum seats roughly 9,000, half that of the AT&T Center. 

Plans for the Spurs’ next annual “rodeo road trip” are unknown. The 2020 NBA season was interrupted in March and relocated to a coronavirus-free “bubble” in Orlando, cutting off revenues for the AT&T Center through the end of the season. Due to the late start of playoffs, the NBA has delayed the regular-season start for 2020-21 games until at least Jan. 18, and a schedule has not yet been released.

Only one concert is on the AT&T Center calendar for the remainder of the year.

In 2020, more than 1.5 million people attended the rodeo in San Antonio, held just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic led to closures in Texas. But in Houston, the city’s Livestock Show and Rodeo had just kicked off in March when officials were forced to cut the annual event short by two weeks. The organization is reportedly suing its insurer for denying a claim against the rodeo’s business insurance policy. 

A spokeswoman said more information on health and safety guidelines for the event, and the entertainment lineup, will be provided on the rodeo website in the coming months.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...