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Andrews takes reins as Stock Show CEO

By Larry Dreiling

The office of the new president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show is sparsely decorated, perhaps reflective of a person who's been in the office only a few weeks.

One part of the decoration in Paul Andrews' new digs stands out: a set of reins.

"I was given these by Pat Grant (the former CEO) as he handed me the reins of the show. I thought it was quite a gesture," Andrews said.

The 2011 edition of the National Western, however, won't be Andrews' first rodeo. He comes into the job with the needed cattle experience to make any hard-core Westerner feel comfortable with him in the job.

On a wall opposite a bank of windows hangs a framed set of National Western ribbons for outstanding Hereford and Polled Hereford exhibitor won by Andrews' grandfather, Paul Pattridge, who operated a ranch near Golden, Colo. Pattridge's hat hangs on a nearby hook.

"The ribbons date back to 1928, when he first showed cattle here," Andrews said. "When he passed away I collected them and had them framed."

In his previous job as executive vice president for Kroenke Sports Enterprises, Andrews was a lead member of the board of governors for the National Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets, Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, and an alternate governor for the National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche.

Andrews also served on the broadband board for the Arsenal Gunners Football (soccer) Club of the English Premier League, of which KSE is the largest stockholder.

All that work meant a great deal of being away from home. This new job allows Andrews more time for family.

"This comes at the right place and right time for me. I was going through lots of years where I was away from home 150 to 160 nights a year. After 20 years of all the travel and of going to just about all the home games where I wouldn't get home past 10:30 at night, and with a wife of 17 years and a 10th grader and a 7th grader at home," Andrews said. " I thought it was time to be focused on doing something I loved for something I think a lot of, like the National Western, and be focused on the family side of my life as well.

"There's a lot of work here, and they know they won't see much of me in January, but tonight, I'll be home at 6 o'clock instead of being at an arena 'til late. This is a lot about family."

It was through pro sports that Andrews came to know National Western Board Chairman Jerry McMorris, the former principal owner of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club. Knowing the McMorris connection to the National Western helped Andrews consider looking at the job.

"Jerry McMorris is an outstanding individual," Andrews said. "He leads a board of directors that might be the most impressive group I've ever seen. When you have Jerry talking to you about this opportunity along with Pat Grant who is just a high-quality guy along with the rest of the board you have to think about taking the job.

"Kroenke Sports has been very good to me and I've been there a long time, but there are other things you want to do with your life. This is the kind of opportunity that doesn't come up every day. Pat held it for 20 years and I intend to be here for just as long.

"It was a combination of family, the board and what the National Western stands for in its vision, values and mission. They're all important to me personally."

One of the tasks Andrews will have will be in joining McMorris and Grant in long-term planning efforts. He sees his previous experiences as a plus in developing the plan.

"I was part of building two outstanding facilities in Pepsi Center and Dick's Sporting Goods Park, so I understand the process," Andrews said. "Pat is doing the due diligence to make something happen.

"I'm early in the game, but I hope to be a good sounding board and strategist as we look at the National Western as we work to continue to make this the top notch event in the world for rodeo, livestock shows and horse events."

One thing Andrews admits: This is not his grandfather's Stock Show. New attractions, such as Pro Bull Riding and ethnic rodeos are filling time at the Denver Coliseum once devoted to traditional rodeo.

"A lot of these events have a lot of growth potential," Andrews said. "I want to take a look over the course of the upcoming show to look at what goes on and to work with everyone as they go about getting ready for the next year. I'll have a much better idea of what will happen as we go forward. I won't be surprised if we don't have record attendance this year."

As an area native and as someone who grew up around the livestock business, Andrews does profess he likes traditional rodeo.

"There's something about all the events in one performance, culminating with bull riding that is such a great experience, either with your family or your friends," Andrews said. I'm looking forward to seeing what Marv Witt has in store with the Wild West Show and the power and beauty of the horse show.

"And I have to admit it, I can't help but walk through the Expo Hall and see what these vendors have to offer. It never fails that I leave a couple of hundred dollars lighter in the wallet, but there's a lot of neat stuff there. It's a neat place to spend your Christmas money."

When it comes to money, Andrews knows that National Western attendance is predicated on being a good entertainment value. He said he's working to develop new family-oriented pricing schemes that will help price-conscious consumers.

"One thing I've learned in the live entertainment business is that people like packages. We will be developing and releasing several new ticket packages to make attending the National Western easy and attractive," Andrews said.

There will be family-friendly packages, of course, including tickets, hot dogs and sodas at a compact price. Another package, called Boots Night Out, will focus on female patrons and include tickets and a Pepsi or Coors product.

"Call me crazy," Andrews said, "but with the right planning and creative execution we can sell out every event every night. It's never a gimme, but if we expose folks who've never been to the National Western to what we know is some of the best entertainment around, they'll be hooked and keep coming back."

Andrews admits that for all his confidence about it, the new job has not come without some needed training.

Part of the job of National Western CEO comes during the opening segment of rodeo performances, when, as part of the grand entry, he's required to ride out on a horse onto the Coliseum floor at a fast clip, make a sudden stop at a specific spot and tip his Western hat to the crowd.

Andrews wants to make a good appearance.

"I've been doing some practicing," Andrews said. "I spent a lot of time riding over Thanksgiving weekend at my in-laws' ranch up near Moorcroft, Wyo. It's been since probably my senior year in high school on the ranch since I was on a horse so much. It's good exercise. It really works your core. I'll be ready."

Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117, or by e-mail at ldreiling@aol.com.

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