They don’t call Mesquite the Rodeo Capital of Texas for nothing! This pro rodeo operates during traditional rodeo season, spring through fall, and is the second-most televised rodeo in the world. The rodeo has changed hands numerous times since its initial creation, but it now belongs to the Camelot Sports & Entertainment company, which bought the rodeo from the owner of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars, in 2009. Since, they’ve put a lot of money into cleaning up the place, adding high-def video boards and ramping up the luxury in the suites. They also added a private restaurant for members-only. Famous faces that have graced the rodeo’s doors? Former presidents Reagan and W. Bush, as well as Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
The world famous Mesquite Championship Rodeo, is located in Mesquite, Texas, the Rodeo Capital of Texas. Just 15 minutes from downtown Dallas in the climate-controlled Mesquite Arena. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo will be held on Saturday Nights in June, July and August. Charlie Columbus McNally founded The original Mesquite Rodeo, which was a permanent location and did not move town to town. It was held at the Charlie McNally’s Arena which was located on Hickory Tree Road, a little to the north of present Rodeo Drive. The original Mesquite Rodeo dates from about 1946 but was preceded by the Pleasant Mound Rodeo which began in 1941, also started by Charlie McNally and is where Neal Gay got his start in 1945.
It was located on the northeast corner of Buckner Boulevard and Scyene Road. Ironically, it was closed when the City of Dallas annexed Pleasant Mound in 1950 and refused to issue a special zoning permit to the rodeo. Shortly after Neal Gay, Jim Shoulders, Ira Akers and their associates purchased C.C. McNally’s property in 1957. They built a new arena on the south side of the property on the north side of present Rodeo Drive for the 1958 opening of the professional, soon to be renamed, Mesquite Championship Rodeo. The entrance was still on Hickory Tree Road and passed north of the open arena (the roof was added in 1964) to a parking area on the west side. The brick kilns were just a few hundred feet southeast of the arena. The present arena was built in 1986 further south of the 1958 arena on the site of one of the clay pits. Rodeo Drive and Neal Gay Drive were constructed about the same time. The 1958 arena was torn down and the site remains undeveloped. All that area had been in the Mesquite City limits since the mid 1950s expansion during the post war housing boom. The 1970 opening of 635 did not have any physical effect on the Mesquite Rodeo property but it did provide the visibility that led to increased attendance. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo was televised on ESPN from 1981 to 1986, and from 1986 to 1999 on TNN. Finally, in the 2000s, it was televised on Fox Sports Networks. It reached over 8.3 million households, to date, the most televised rodeo in the world next to the NHSRA 20X Rodeo High telecast on RFD-TV. The Fox Sports Networks era would be the last in which the Mesquite Championship Rodeo was televised.
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