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Johnny Morris, Bass Pro invest in bull-riding team

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Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops are investing in a new bull-riding team.

Morris and his outdoors retail company purchased a founding sanction for the Missouri Thunder team, according to a news release. The franchise will participate in the Professional Bull Riders association's PBR Team Series that's slated to start in June.

The team will compete at the Morris-owned Thunder Ridge property at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale.

"Many of our customers are passionate PBR fans, and this is a great extension of our brand," said Morris, founder of Bass Pro, in the release. "We couldn’t be more excited to showcase some of the best bull riders in the world at the Thunder Ridge Nature Arena at Big Cedar Lodge, right here in the Ozarks."

The financial terms of the "significant investment" were undisclosed in the release.

The Missouri Thunder will be directed by General Manager Randy Bernard, former CEO of PBR who currently serves as country singer Garth Brooks’ manager. The team will be coached by co-captains and bull-riding veterans Ross Coleman and Luke Snyder, Morris' son-in-law.

"The league format will open exciting new opportunities for our riders and give our loyal fans — those who have followed PBR for a long time and new ones alike — something to really get behind and enjoy," Snyder said in the release. “Randy, Ross and I share a deep passion for the Western lifestyle and go a long way back. We couldn’t be more proud to represent Johnny and the Bass Pro Shops Missouri Thunder as we lead a world-class team of the best riders in the world into this new endeavor.”

The Missouri Thunder and other franchises in the PBR Team Series will create their rosters through a draft scheduled May 23.

Morris and team plan to expand facilities at Thunder Ridge in preparation for the Missouri Thunder, according to the release.

The other PBR Team Series franchises are the Ariat Texas Rattlers; the Arizona Ridge Riders; the Austin Gamblers in Texas; the Carolina Chaos in North Carolina; the Kansas City Outlaws; the Nashville Stampede in Tennessee; and the Oklahoma Freedom.


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