AUSTIN, Texas — PBR (Professional Bull Riders) is coming to Central Texas with a PBR Team Series event at Austin’s Moody Center scheduled for August 26-28. Texas natives Egon and Abby Durban—owners of the Austin Gamblers, the team representing Texas’s capital city in the new elite bull riding league—today announced they have selected JJ Gottsch, a longtime Austin sports executive formerly with the Round Rock Express, to serve as chief executive officer. Gottsch will oversee all facets of the business operations of Austin’s latest professional sport.
“JJ’s success in developing premiere sports programs and entertainment in Austin and beyond make him the ideal partner to grow and lead the Austin Gamblers,” the Durbans said. “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. Austin is an incredible fan base, and the Gamblers will bring the opportunity for Central Texans to rally around another professional sports team. The Gamblers are honored to call Austin and this special region home, and we invite all Central Texans to join us in embracing them. We are honored to invest here.”
Gottsch spent the last eight years as the chief operating officer of Ryan Sanders Sports and Entertainment. During his 24 years with the company, he played instrumental roles in the establishment of two of Minor League Baseball’s most successful franchises—the Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks—as well as serving as the executive director of “Big League Weekend,” a Major League Baseball spring training exhibition series at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Gottsch is also the current chairman of the Austin Sports Commission.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring new and old fans together to enjoy a sport of grit, dedication, and Texan-style entertainment,” Gottsch said. “Whether it’s the love of food, music, or sports, Austinites’ passion and loyalty is unmatched. We are so excited to not only bring another professional sport to Central Texas but also bring in top talent as our coaches and riders for our team.”
PBR legend Michael Gaffney, a Central Texas resident, was also announced as the head coach of the Gamblers. The New Mexico native is one of the original founders of PBR in 1992. As an athlete, he won the 1997 World Championship and was inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor in 2005.
“I am honored to be selected as the Austin Gamblers coach and grow our team and our supporters, who will be just as integral to the team’s success as our riders and staff,” Gaffney said. “We hope Central Texans will appreciate the competition that showcases the athleticism, focus, and unparalleled entertainment professional bull riding offers. With the number one draft pick, I am excited to bring the best of the best to Austin in our inaugural season.”
Egon Durban is Co-CEO of Silver Lake, the global leader in technology investing. Silver Lake’s investment portfolio includes ownership in Endeavor (PBR’s parent company), City Football Group (owner of the Manchester City Football Club and New York City FC MLS club), and UFC (through Endeavor), among other sports and entertainment businesses, as well as Dell Technologies, VMware, Unity, and many other leading technology businesses.
Austin was selected as one of eight cities to join the inaugural PBR Team Series. The league launches this year and features the world’s top bull riders competing in team competitions beginning in July. Rosters will include seven riders, along with three practice squad members. The Austin Gamblers won the first-ever team draft lottery to determine selection order among the eight teams and will have the top pick in the draft that will take place on May 23 in Arlington, Texas.
Each of the eight teams will host an annual bull riding and western lifestyle event. The festivities and extreme athletic competition come to Austin from August 26-28. The three-day event, which will showcase traditional 8-second bull rides structured in a tournament-style format with all teams competing in head-to-head matchups against a different opponent each day, will take place at the new, multi-purpose venue Moody Center. The Gamblers will be the first professional sports team to host an event at the facility.
Tickets for the inaugural 2022 PBR Team Series will go on sale on Monday, March 21 at PBR.com, Ticketmaster.com, MoodyCenterATX.com, or by calling PBR Customer Service at 1-800-732-1727. A presale for tickets begins on Monday, March 14.
Article Courtesy of PBR