The CEO of Professional Bull Riders is furious and now speaking out after managers at the Spectrum Center in North Carolina refused to allow the U.S. Customs and Border Protection honor guard to enter their building on Friday night.
The Spectrum Center (formerly Time Warner Cable Arena) is home to the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
“Unwavering support of the US military, and starting all PBR events with a proud and respectful presentation of the American flag and our national anthem, have been part of the sport’s DNA since it was founded,” said PBR chief Sean Gleason.
Gleason says the uniformed agents, who are part of a unit of the Dept. of Homeland Security, were supposed to serve as honor guard and display the American flag during the national anthem. But apparently the managers at the arena had an issue with the agents carrying firearms, so a standoff ensued. Gleason says they had an “agenda.”
“It seemed very clear to me after 1½ hours that this was a situation in which a ‘policy’ that has merit on the surface was being used to go beyond both reason and the law to force an agenda,” Gleason wrote in a Facebook post.”
A PBR spokesperson said Border Patrol members present the colors at all PBR events and they’ve never encountered a situation like this before.
Gleason told Sporting News, “What should have been a two-minute conversation with the GM of the building turned into a 1½ hour runaround involving lawyers and the most insane arguments and reasoning I have ever heard.”
The PBR head said he was very close to cancelling the event, when the arena suggested a Charlotte police officer escort the federal agents into the building. The show went on after a slight delay.
Gleason initially vowed not to return to the venue after what happened Friday night, but PBR did come back on Saturday and the show reportedly “went off without a hitch.”
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