RODEO CANCELED: Preeminent Houston rodeo to end early due to coronavirus concerns

HOUSTON, Texas -- One of the largest livestock exhibitions and rodeos in the world is expected to be shuttered early amid the growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, sources tell our sister station ABC13.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told council members Wednesday morning that a noon press conference was in the works to make the announcement that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo would be closing down eleven days ahead of the March 22 finale.

The rodeo is the latest in a growing number of large events across the United States that have been cancelled or postponed.

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A petition titled "Petition to Cancel the Houston Rodeo Amid Coronavirus Outbreak" was started ahead of Wednesday's announcement. As of Wednesday morning, more than 4,500 people had signed on.

Rodeo season kicked off Tuesday, March 3 and was supposed to last through Sunday, March 22.

It wasn't yet known how refunds would be handled.

The rodeo is also known for bring big names to perform at its venue, however, those concerts are likely to be canceled. Some of the big names that were expected to perform include Lizzo, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Khalid and many more.

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The multi-day event generates a $227 million economic impact, according to the RodeoHouston website, and generates nearly 3,700 direct jobs.

It's the first shutdown of the rodeo since it was cancelled entirely in 1937, according to records. The announcement comes as attendance has been down over previous years. The 2020 event experienced the lowest opening attendance for the first six days over the past five years.

The event was established as the Houston Fat Stock Show in 1931, before a name change thirty years later to the current Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

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