Saddle up, folks. A team from a new Professional Bull Riding league is riding into Austin.
Central Texans will get a chance to see the Austin Gamblers in action from August 26-28 during a PBR Team Series event at the University of Texas’ new Moody Center. Over 500 bull riders compete each year in more than 200 PBR events, including the new PBR Team Series.
Texas natives Egon and Abby Durban own the Gamblers. They’ve tapped longtime sports executive JJ Gottsch as CEO of the Gamblers. Gottsch is the former chief operating officer of the business that owns the Round Rock Express minor league baseball team. He’s also chairman of the Austin Sports Commission.
“JJ’s success in developing [premier] sports programs and entertainment in Austin and beyond makes him the ideal partner to grow and lead the Austin Gamblers,” the Durbans say in a news release. “This new professional team sport will bring the excitement and energy of bull riding to Moody Center in Austin and will feature the most elite bull riders in the world — real-life action heroes who deliver authentic and thrilling entertainment to both longtime fans and new ones.”
Gottsch says the Gamblers represent a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to introduce Central Texans to a sport of “grit, dedication, and Texan-style entertainment.”
PBR legend Michael Gaffney, who lives in Central Texas, is the Gamblers’ first-ever head coach. He is a co-founder of PBR and won the sport’s 1997 world championship.
Egon Durban is co-CEO of Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm based in Silicon Valley. The firm’s sports portfolio includes PBR’s parent company, City Football Group (owner of the Manchester City Football Club and New York City FC soccer club), and the UFC (through Endeavor). Durban sits on the boards of a number of companies, including Round Rock-based Dell Technologies.
Austin is one of eight U.S. cities picked in January to join the inaugural PBR Team Series. The league launches this year, with team competitions kicking off in July. Each team’s roster will include seven riders and three practice squad members. The Gamblers hold the top pick in the PBR Team Series’ first draft, set for May 23 in Arlington.
Each of the eight teams will host an annual bull riding and Western lifestyle event, with Austin’s activities scheduled for August 26-28.
Texas hosts one other PBR team: the Ariat Texas Rattlers in Fort Worth. The other teams are in Glendale, Arizona (a Phoenix suburb); Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Ridgedale, Missouri (near Branson); Nashville; and Oklahoma City.