“Sold out” crowds amount to 30% of PETCO Park seating capacity
SAN DIEGO, California––Three of the Big Lies sustaining rodeo are that it evolved out of routine practices in cattle ranching, that the animals involved are not often and needlessly injured, and––the biggest lie of all––that it is wildly popular despite decades of failure to build a television audience sufficient to keep it on the air from major networks without subsidies from rodeo associations.
All three Big Lies were on display at the three performances of the first-ever San Diego Rodeo at PETCO Park, held over the weekend of January 12-14, 2024.
That the spectators saw nothing practiced routinely in either the beef or the dairy industry was so little news to anyone that even the effusive bought-and-paid-for hype surrounding the rodeo broadcast by San Diego media included little or no pretense that rodeo is––or ever was––anything other than violent entertainment.
Blinded horse crashed into fence
The violence toward animals was most vividly on display, reported SanDiegoVille, in the so-called “’Indigenous Relay Race’ portion at the very end of the first night.
Note: relay races, indigenous or alien, are not part of any form of cow-herding.
“On the first lap of the race,” SanDiegoVille narrated, “a female cowboy [observe the evident gender dysphoria] was bucked off her horse. Then the unmounted horse took off and,” apparently blinded by an out-of-position mask worn to prevent distraction, “ran directly into a metal safety barricade,” meant to protect the spectators, not the animals.
The horse “collapsed instantaneously as onlookers fell silent. The view of the horse was quickly blocked with a tarp, as the horse was slid into a trailer and trucked off the field,” said SanDiegoVille.
Updated Rocio De La Fe of CBS-8 San Diego, the horse, Waco Kid, “owned by the Vigen Family of the MHA Nation,” short for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara affiliated tribes of North Dakota, “is alive and did not sustain major injuries, according to C5 Rodeo, the company running the event.”
Tiers of empty seats
Headlined CBS-8 above De La Fe’s account, “Sold-out crowd packs Petco Park for night 2 of San Diego Rodeo.”
Most other coverage echoed the same claims for every performance of the San Diego Rodeo, reciting statements from the host San Diego Padres baseball team and C5 Rodeo publicists.
The tiers of empty seats behind the Waco Kid crash, however, endlessly displayed for days on Instagram and other social media, told a different story.
The PETCO Park seating capacity is officially 40,019. The San Diego Padres baseball team claims to have drawn an average of 40,389 fans to each and every one of the 81 home ballgames played during 2023.
Apparently 370 fans were standing in line for the restrooms or concession stands throughout every moment of play.
Never mind that, though.
“Crowds of 12,000 expected”
“According to a Padres official,” reported San Diego Union Tribune sportswriter Kirk Kenney, “crowds of 12,000 are expected each day for the three-day event, though Friday’s gathering appeared somewhat smaller when the event began.”
“Sell-out” crowds of 12,000 mean 28,019 seats were empty at all times during the three rodeo performances, even if nobody was standing in line to buy beer, or to dispose of his or her previous beer.
That might have been possible, since SanDiegoVille mentioned that first San Diego Rodeo performance, at least, was held on an “unusually cold evening.”
In truth, the much ballyhooed San Diego Rodeo appears to have attracted about the same cumulative attendance––fewer than 36,000––as the combined audience for the annual Poway, Ramona, and Lakeside rodeos, held elsewhere in San Diego County, population 2.3 million.
Very likely that 1.5% of the San Diego population is just about everyone who wanted to be at PETCO Park to witness the flying horse and cow manure, and cowboys occasionally landing in it.
“Show us the money”
San Diego Rodeo tickets, according to the SeatGeek web site, were sold “for as low as $59.00, with an average price of $81.00.”
Offering $620,000 in prize money, divided among the top four finishers of eight to 12 contestants in each event, the San Diego Rodeo claimed to have attracted many of the biggest names in rodeo, though none might be as recognized on the street as a longtime checkstand attendant at Walmart.
The math means that about $17.25 from each ticket price went for prize money.
Approximately $16.66 from each ticket price appears to have been spent just to open the doors, turn on the lights, and otherwise operate the venue.
Could the San Diego Padres have made a profit from the San Diego Rodeo?
Maybe. A possible net of as much as $1.7 million would just about pay the cost of hiring the average major league ballplayer for 54 games of the 162-game baseball season.
The total San Diego Padres’ payroll for 2024 is reportedly $134 million.
“Controversial from its announcement”
“The event has been controversial from its announcement, “ summarized SanDiegoVille, “and many protestors were seen outside Petco Park on Friday night.”
“Many,” according to other pundits, was about a dozen.
But a ratio of one protester to 1,000 participants at a public event on a miserably cold night is actually not a bad turnout, equivalent to about 1,100 protesters turning out on an average day at either the San Diego Zoo or SeaWorld San Diego––which of course has never actually happened.
In November 2024, continued SanDiegoVille, “Animal Protection & Rescue League, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Padres and C5 Rodeo in an effort to halt the rodeo. The complaint contended that C5 Rodeo has previously used electric prods and other devices to shock animals which violates a state law that bans such mechanisms.”
Lawsuits failed, but so did stadium owner’s health
After the lawsuit failed, SanDiegoVille recounted, “local attorney and activist Bryan Pease [sought] a temporary restraining order against the Padres and C5 Rodeo, claiming the rodeo would violate San Diego’s municipal code by allowing non-service animals at the ballpark.”
That ploy also failed.
Meanwhile, Peter Seidler, 63, majority owner of the Padres and PetCo Park while the San Diego Rodeo was in planning, died on November 23, 2023 after a multi-year battle with health conditions including type 1 diabetes and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
His widow Sheel Seidler, however, involved in “cutting” competitions [herding cattle using quarter horses], often held in conjunction with rodeos, is believed to have been the driving force behind the PETCO Park rodeo.
Whether there will ever be another San Diego Rodeo held at PETCO Park remains to be seen.
Much depends on whether the claimed cumulative crowd of under 36,000 enjoyed their three-night taste of dust, bullshit, and horseshit enough to pay $81 per head, on average, to return for more.
But there may be no accounting for flavor preference among diehard rodeo-goers.
“Two South Texas favorites are joining forces for an iconic new ice cream flavor,” gushed Kristin Dean of KENS-5 television in San Antonio, Texas on January 9, 2024.
“The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo posted on its Facebook page that it is unveiling a new H-E-B Creamy Creations flavor in honor of the 75th anniversary of the rodeo,” Dean proclaimed.
“The post says the new ice cream flavor comes in a pint size or a gallon and only available for a limited time,” presumably before it melts.
“According to H-E-B’s web site,” Dean said, the concoction has “a chocolate ice cream base, mixed with roasted pecans and chocolate cookie swirls,” one might guess in a combination evoking the taste and scent of old cowboy boots.
The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, running for two weeks beginning on February 8 , 2024, claims to draw annual attendance of 1.5 million, approximately equal to the San Antonio population base.
That makes the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo about 30% as popular as a stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk, and about half as popular as SeaWorld San Antonio, the smallest of the SeaWorld marine mammal parks.