National Western Kicks Off This Weekend, But Then What?

Denver officials pledged to keep the Stock Show in Denver, but there needs to be a tangible plan for its future.
January 2013

The National Western Stock Show kicks off its 107th annual event this weekend, but there are still significant questions about its future.

In November, Denver mayor Michael Hancock said the city was committed to keeping the iconic show—previous plans had National Western possibly moving to Aurora—though scant details were given. Since then, there's been near silence on the issue. So what's going to happen?

What we know now is city officials and National Western leadership want to make the 95-acre North Denver venue a viable spot for year-round entertainment. What that might be is still undetermined, but ideas need to come quickly. In 2011, Stock Show officials pieced together a detailed plan of possibilities, from dropping $500 million to expand the facility to doing nothing. The do-nothing option, the report said, would destroy the show and force National Western into bankruptcy by 2018.

So how badly does the city want the Stock Show? Desperately. Denver and the show have gone hand-in-glove for more than a century, and the complex itself is a big part of the city's history. But folks also have to be realists about the situation. Sadly, if the show can't survive on the current site in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, it will have to (again) look elsewhere.

For the moment, let's enjoy the festivities as they are from Saturday until January 27. But after that, folks need to get to work and figure out how to save this thing—for Denver and for future generations.

Image courtesty of Shutterstock