Getting to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas

Tips on Buying Tickets for the December Show

Cowboy at National Finals Rodeo
National Finals Rodeo/Getty Images

Every December, the rodeo comes to Las Vegas, transforming the landscape of Sin City into a sea of Wrangler jeans, boots, and cowboy hats. The top 15 contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding qualify to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV.

If you are planning on getting tickets from the box office be sure to plan your trip early. The box office sells out months in advance. Season ticket holders get first dibs at their seats, after that the public gets a chance at remaining tickets for individual days of the event that are left. Season tickets to this event have been sold out since 1987.

Mad Dash Tickets

The box office also sells “Mad Dash Tickets” when reserved seating is sold out. Mad Dash tickets are a general admission ticket. Mad Dash tickets offer rodeo fans an opportunity to purchase individual performance balcony tickets for all 10 rodeo performances. There is a catch: If the person who owns that seat shows up, you have to move to another empty seat.

You can also view the rodeo from the concourse, Cowboy Corral, or The Shoe. The Cowboy Corral and The Shoe are two facilities immediately adjacent to the main arena. If within the first 30 minutes of the rodeo beginning you are unable to find an open balcony seat, Mad Dash tickets are refundable at the box office. It sounds like a gamble...but hey, this is Las Vegas.

Ticket Brokers

If the box office is sold out or does not have the seats you are looking for, there are some alternatives. Tickets can be purchased on the secondary market from ticket brokers. Ticket brokers specialize in premium rodeo tickets, so you can also expect a premium price. Those tickets are sold at above the face value. Also, brokers have access to premium seating that is always hard to find at the box office. Buying from a reputable broker is the safest and most reliable way to get tickets if the box office is sold out, but understand, you may have to pay a hefty amount.

EBay and StubHub

Rodeo tickets and just about everything else in the world can also be found on eBay. There are some things to look out for when buying on eBay. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company, not an individual. In recent years a lot of people have been scammed by criminals selling fake tickets. They get the money, and then, you are stuck outside with a fake ticket in your hand. Also, be sure to look at the company’s eBay feedback rating. You may want to avoid sellers with too little or negative feedback and always look for a physical address where the seller can be found.

Another online ticket trading or auction site is StubHub. Be a little wary using this site. StubHub has some safety mechanisms in place to prevent fraud, but any system can be gamed. There are some good deals to be found online, but with everything, if the prices sound too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.

Ticket Scalpers

If you feel like gambling in Vegas, you can always look to get tickets from a ticket scalper the day of the event. If you know you are going to buy tickets off the street, do some research first. Find out where the best seats are and where the worst seats are, or bring a printout of the arena seating so you know where your seats will be. Don’t rely on a scalper's seating chart. Know how many rows are in each section. This will help you avoid buying counterfeit tickets.

As with eBay, there is an increasing number of criminals scalping counterfeit tickets to events. If you buy tickets from some person off the street, you have no recourse if the ticket turns out to be a fake.

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