The 77th annual Cal Poly Royal Rodeo is preparing for a brand new audience experience with its premiere at Alex G. Spanos Stadium this spring, increasing the previous capacity to 11,000.
“Relocating the rodeo is monumental,” Cal Poly rodeo team coach Ben Londo said. “This will not only improve the spectator experience but [will] allow the Cal Poly Rodeo program to make history by potentially becoming the largest college rodeo in the country.”
Though their previous off-campus venue held 2,500 spectators, while the team estimates they brought in roughly 5,000 to 6,000 viewers in past rodeos.
“People were climbing fences and standing wherever they [could] to watch the show last year,” Londo said. “There [were] probably ten-deep worth of people standing. It was just chaos.”
College rodeo athletes from all over the West Coast will compete for a championship title in events such as barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding and steer wrestling. The rodeo will also include stunts, clown acts, calf dressing and more.
“From the level of comp to acts we bring in, we rival any professional rodeo on the West Coast,” Londo said.
The rodeo dates back to 1949 when Cal Poly sent six men to the inaugural College National Finals Rodeo. Since then, Cal Poly Rodeo’s student-athletes have gone on to win six national championships — more than any other school in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association competition — and 44 national titles.
Constructing the arena
Alex G. Spanos Stadium will undergo quite the transformation before the Cal Poly Rodeo kicks off this April. In just under 48 hours, the school’s largest arena will convert from a playing field to a brand new
The team is allotted a mere 96-hour window to be on and off the turf before it begins to die. To preserve the field, Cal Poly has contracted Special-T-Tracks, Inc., based in Ohio, to prepare the stadium for the event.
To start, the field will be covered with a GeoTech layer—a fiber that helps protect the grass. They will then lay large sheets of plywood over the entirety of the fiber. Finally, dump trucks will haul in dirt that will serve as the main surface for the rodeo.
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Above is a Mustang News rendering of what Spanos may look like after the transformation. | Photo illustration by Austin Linthicum/Mustang News
Construction management senior and rodeo team member Hunter Reaume said that the three-layered approach helps mitigate the effects on the grass. He is helping to plan the overhaul of Spanos Stadium as part of his senior project.
“I just love the rodeo team and love being involved,” Reaume said. “I naturally wanted to be as involved as I could be.”
Reaume will compete in the tie-down and team roping events.
Because Spanos Stadium is not designed to house livestock, the team will also construct temporary pens to hold the animals for the rodeo.
“The construction will go all the way from Wednesday night, through the rodeo, and have a crew in there all the way until Sunday morning,” Londo said.
But it’s worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
“We are not totally sure if it will be the largest college rodeo, but it will damn sure be one of the biggest and one of the best,” Londo said.
Tickets go on sale in February with all proceeds benefiting the Cal Poly Rodeo program.