Oklahoma’s first bull riding team to compete at Paycom Center and be operated by Prodigal 
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (January 6, 2022) – PBR (Professional Bull Riders) today announced that the Oklahoma Freedom will represent Oklahoma City, in the PBR Team Series, an elite new league featuring the world’s top bull riders competing in games beginning in June 2022.

As the Sooner State’s first bull riding team, the Oklahoma Freedom will be based at Paycom Center and operated by Prodigal. The Oklahoma Freedom joins team tenants at the indoor venue including the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and their G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue. 

Prodigal is a full-service sports and entertainment agency based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The senior staff at Prodigal has more than 100 years of experience managing sport and entertainment events and teams. In 2007, Prodigal launched its athlete representation division, and represents the likes of two-time PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood, 2018 PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco and 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis. 

PBR and Prodigal have a longstanding relationship dating to 2007, partnering annually on Unleash The Beast events in the Sooner State. 

“I’m excited about the opportunity this provides the athletes, the fans and Oklahoma in general,” said Prodigal Sports Agency Director and General Manager of the Oklahoma Freedom Brandon Bates. “This is a historic change for a sport that traces its roots back hundreds of years, and I’m very thankful that Prodigal has the opportunity to be a part of it.” 

The PBR Team Series’ inaugural 10-event regular season will culminate in a team playoff at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas November 4-6, 2022. The league will launch with eight founding teams, each scheduled to host in their respective city an annual bull riding event and western lifestyle festival, building excitement and rooting interests in the sport.

The PBR Team Series event for the Oklahoma Freedom at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City will be announced at a later date. Fans can connect with the Oklahoma Freedom on social media at @Oklahoma Freedom on Facebook, @OK_Freedom on Twitter, @OK_Freedom_ on Instagram, and @OK_Freedom on TikTok.

The full PBR Team Series league roster is: 

  • Ariat Texas Rattlers, based in Fort Worth, Tex., owned by the Fisher family
  • Arizona Ridge Riders, based in Glendale, Ariz., owned by Teton Ridge
  • Austin Gamblers, based in Austin, Tex., owned by Egon Durban 
  • Carolina Chaos, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., owned by the league and operated by Richard Childress Racing.
  • Kansas City Outlaws, based in Kansas City, Mo., owned by Pulley Outlaws LLC 
  • Missouri Thunder, based in Ridgedale, Mo., owned by Johnny Morris
  • Nashville Stampede, based in Nashville, Tenn., owned by Morris Communications Company
  • Oklahoma Freedom, based in Oklahoma City, Okla., owned by the league and operated by Prodigal 

There will also be two “neutral site” league-produced regular season events and the season playoff and championship. All PBR Team Series events will be carried on either the CBS Television Network, streaming live on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network or Pluto TV.

The league will host a PBR Team Series rider draft on May 23 prior to start of the 2022 season, among PBR rider members who have declared for the draft during a league eligibility window. To determine team selection order of the athletes, a draft lottery among teams will be held prior to the PBR Unleash The Beast event at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday, January 7. 

The PBR Team Series complements the successful PBR Unleash The Beast premier tour, which held its first championship in 1994 and in 2022 will be staged January – May, with its World Finals held in Fort Worth, Texas from May 13-22, 2022.  

PBR has a storied history in Oklahoma’s capital city, which is the league’s longest running event in the Sooner State.

In 2020, Jose Vitor Leme became the first rider to win the Oklahoma City event en route to the year’s World Championship. Marking the Brazilian phenom’s second consecutive victory, the win allowed Leme to claim the world No. 1 rank for the first time that season. While he briefly surrendered the world No. 1 rank, surpassed by fellow Brazilian star Vieira for one week, the former semi-professional soccer player who had finished second the previous two seasons, was seemingly unstoppable, determined to finish the season with nothing less than the coveted gold PBR World Championship buckle.  

Leme would win a league-leading seven elite tour events and 16 rounds, going a torrid 44-for-65 in covering a superlative 67.69% of the planet’s rankest bovine athletes en route to the 2020 PBR World Championship.

Leme’s victory came on the spurs of back-to-back wins by Oklahoma’s own Ryan Dirteater who dominated the tour stop in both 2018 and 2019.

In addition to the now retired Dirteater, who hails from Hulbert, other active PBR favorite Oklahoma natives include Brennon Eldred and Colten Jesse. 

“Over the past 29 years, PBR has grown to become a mainstream sport carried by CBS and Pluto TV and packing marquee arenas across the country,” said PBR CEO and Commissioner Sean Gleason. “The incredible lineup of passionate, highly successful team owners validates the new PBR Team Series league – a transformational addition to the sport that will help take PBR to new levels.”

The PBR Team Series builds on the existing structure of professional bull riding with the same basic rules for judging and scoring qualified 8-second bull rides. Events will be structured in a tournament-style format with all teams competing in head-to-head matchups against a different opponent each day. Each game will feature five riders per team squaring off against another team. Full team rosters will be comprised of seven riders on the core roster and up to three practice squad members. The team with the highest aggregate score of qualified rides among its riders will be declared the winner of each game. The event winner will be the team with the most game wins across an event, with a special bonus round designed as a tie-breaker to determine final event standings.

Team formatted bull-riding events have been growing in popularity since the debut of the PBR Global Cup in 2017, which pitted nation against nation in the name of national pride. The successful event format continued in June and July 2021 with the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol. In addition, PBR has staged multiple Air Force Reserve Cowboys for a Cause team charity events. 

About PBR (Professional Bull Riders):
PBR is the world’s premier bull riding organization. More than 500 bull riders compete in more than 200 events annually across the televised PBR Unleash The Beast tour (UTB), which features the top 35 bull riders in the world; the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT); the PBR Touring Pro Division (TPD); and the PBR’s international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. In June 2022, PBR will launch PBR Team Series – eight teams of the world’s best bull riders competing for a new championship. The organization’s digital assets include PBR RidePass on Pluto TV, which is home to Western sports. PBR is a subsidiary of IMG, a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media. For more information, visit PBR.com, or follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/PBR, Twitter at Twitter.com/PBR, and YouTube at YouTube.com/PBR.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Giangola – andrew.giangola@img.com – 914-334-9529