Greeley Stampede makes improvements, looks ahead to 100th anniversary | TheFencePost.com

Greeley Stampede makes improvements, looks ahead to 100th anniversary

Bridgett Weaver

As rodeo cowboys from all over the country pull on their boots and pack up their horses this week to head toward Greeley, many locals will get ready in their own ways for the Greeley Stampede.

Stampede General Manager Justin Watada said they've been busy putting the final touches on the two-week annual event.

"Really, we're just trying to put on the best party of the summer," he said. "We're going to have something for everybody."

The Stampede this year will be a bit different from the celebration just a few short years ago, when the event came close to ending forever due to financial hardship brought on by the recession.

Last year Watada talked about what it was like to come back from the dark days when debt loomed over one of Greeley's biggest events.

"We're making long-term business decisions, looking ahead to the future," he said.

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In 2007, the Stampede lost about $50,000, but it had enough in the bank to absorb the hit. The losses continued growing through 2010, when the event finally used up all the extra funds and ended the year $226,823 in the red.

Each year since 2010, the Stampede's fund balance has inched upward.

At the end of 2015, the Stampede had $1.9 million in the bank, having made $368,450 in profits.

Watada said it's hard to determine what this year will be like in terms of revenue because so much of the Stampede's success relies on having good weather. But he's optimistic it will be another good year.

He said they are being responsible with the money. They don't want to go back to the days of debt.

They made some changes, specifically in the type of entertainment they bring in. Big country stars generally cost between $750,000 to $1 million, and they are guaranteed the money whether Stampede sells tickets or not.

Watada said last year they decided to bring in acts that were maybe a little lesser known with a few big headliners to keep it affordable both for the Stampede and for the people coming.

They sell concert tickets for $30-45, which Watada said keeps it reasonable for those families that want to come out.

The changes have really helped the Stampede save money so it can keep up with maintenance and do larger projects.

Last year the Stampede did so well that it was able to join with the city to build the new Buckle Club building for $1.3 million.

They got rid of the "round restrooms," which Watada said were the subject of many complaints.

"It's been amazing how many people I've talked to that really didn't like those restrooms," Watada said.

The new Buckle Club building includes bathrooms, meeting space, a large balcony and concession stands.

The Stampede donated money to build it and will donate the building back to the city- and county-owned Island Grove Regional Park during non-Stampede times.

Watada said this is just one example of how the nonprofit organization is making beneficial decisions. The board also decided last year to donate $75,000 to build Aven's Village, a playground at the park.

The board has started to set back money for a capital fund to do something special for the 100th anniversary of the Stampede, which will be in five years. They'll start thinking about what that something special will be after the event this year. Watada said a lot of ideas have been floating around, like a Stampede history museum.

"We want to get the city, county, everyone involved," he said. "It's a big deal for everyone who's been involved throughout the history of the event."

The event drew in more than 40,000 people last year during its two-week span, and this year it will do the same.

Watada said that only about 36 percent of the tickets sold are to Greeley and Evans area residents. The rest are out-of-town visitors.

Watada said he's happy to have all of the out of town visitors because it shows they're on the right track and making good decisions.

"I think we're still heading in the right direction," he said. "It's just kind of tweaking it now."

Greeley Stampede

The Greeley Stampede kicks off Thursday at 4 p.m. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.greeleystampede.org/events.

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Stampede financials

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Revenue $4.65 M $4.74 M $5 M $5.23 M $4.47 M $4.5 M $4.1 M $4.75 M $4.16 M $5.21 M $5.4 M

Expenses $4.52 M $4.79 M $5.12 M $5.23 M $4.59 M $4.85 M $3.588 M $4.25 M $3.87 M $4.73 M $4.61 M

Profit/Losses $130,089.00 $51,216.00 $105,436.00 $114,468.00 $126,853.00 $335,482.00 $501,089 $503,712 $292,989 $482,201 $368,408

Fund Balance $506,557.00 $455,341.00 $349,905.00 $235,435.00 $108,583.00 $226,823.00 $274,266.00 $777,978.00 $1.07 M $1.55 M $1.92 M