NEW YORK - The Professional Bull Riders are headed to the Big Apple, and the PRCA opens the 2007 edition of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour with a new format.

It's time to roll out the New Year.

The PBR's Built Ford Tough Series opens its two-day event at Madison Square Garden in New York Saturday and Sunday with four grueling rounds of competition.

The PBR is going all out to promote their tour. Several of New York's famous yellow cabs are getting make-overs this week. The cabs are covered in fake brown and white cowhide and decorated with horns on the roof. Passengers in the new "bull cabs" won't be gored when it comes to paying the fare, it's on the house, in a promotion sponsored by the Versus cable sports channel.

The PBR also sent two of its bull riders, three-time world champ Adriano Moraes and Rocky McDonald, to make an appearance on NBC's Today Show on Wednesday.

This isn't the first time Madison Square Garden has hosted a PBR event. The PBR's Challenger Series Tour made a stop in New York back in November of 2000.

Ty Murray, PBR president and nine-time world champion cowboy, is excited to see the sport hit the nation's largest market.

"There isn't a higher level of professional bull riding than this. It does not matter if you're a man or woman, young or old, there's something for everyone," Murray said. "Whether you're there for the great rides or the wild wrecks, bull riding as with other professional sports is so much more exciting and powerful live. It's a sport you need to see in person."

Besides Moraes and McDonald, the PBR roster will also include 2005 PBR World Champion Justin McBride of Elk City, Okla., 2004 PBR World Champion Mike Lee of Decatur, Texas, and fan-favorite Ross Coleman of Molalla, Ore.

Catch the action on the Versus Cable Sports Channel.

Check local listings for times in your area.

While the PBR is in New York this weekend, the PRCA unveils a new format at the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, which opened January 4.

The Odessa rodeo gives cowboys and cowgirls their first chance to count earnings toward qualification into a new playoff system that will culminate in the form of four championship events after the conclusion of the Tour season.

A total of 21 rodeos make up the new Tour, which previously had consisted of a winter and summer series with a culminating Tour Finale after each.

Fox Sports and CBS Sports will televise the championship events.

Also getting underway this weekend is the famed National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver.


Butch Thurman of Pendleton, Ore., has covered professional rodeo for 27 years.


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