Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Houston Rodeo is expected to shut down over coronavirus concerns

Officials are expected to announce the closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at a noon news conference, sources with knowledge of the discussions said Wednesday.
Mayor Sylvester Turner informed city council members during the group’s regular Wednesday morning meeting of a coronavirus-related announcement at noon, which sources confirmed was that further events at the rodeo — the massive, week-long event and concert series that routinely draws more than 100,000 visitors to NRG Park on Saturdays and Sundays — will be truncated.
The annual event began on March 3 and was slated to run through March 22. The pending announcement would come days after rodeo officials said it had no plans to cancel the annual festival. In a statement on Saturday, organizers said that RodeoHouston primarily was a local event.
"The Rodeo is predominantly a local event, with 73% of the 2019 Rodeo visitors residing in the greater Houston area, 94% in Texas, and 99% in the U.S.," the statement read. "In contrast, 26% of the 2019 SXSW attendees were international."
Rodeo officials stated that they are taking extra precautions and measures to ensure the health and safety of guests, including additional janitorial staff, increased cleaning schedules, more hand sanitizer stations, and additional signage reminding restroom users to wash their hands.
urner, in a tweet, reiterated the Rodeo’s message about it being a local event in contrast to the just-canceled SXSW even in Austin and CERAWEEK in Houston. Each of those drew numerous patrons from around the world, he said.
Since then the number of Houston-area resident who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has risen to 15. 
As of Wednesday morning, more than 11,000 people had signed an online petition urging cancellation of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
As of Monday more than 566,000 people had attended events on the rodeo grounds. Last year’s total attendance was more than 2.5 million people over 21 days.
Houston’s rodeo generated $227 million in total economic impact in 2019 and supported nearly 3,700 direct jobs, according to a study by Economic Analytics Consulting commissioned by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which measured new spending in the region generated by outside visitors and spending by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Inc.