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Mesquite's Ringing in a New Rodeo Season with Bigger TVs, Cheaper Beer

With just a few days until the start of a new season, the Mesquite Championship Rodeo opened its doors yesterday for a sneak peak at the new-look Resistol Arena.

Actually, it looks an awful lot like it used to -- same wooden boards under the seats, still dirt in the middle -- but riders and ridees alike ought to enjoy the new chutes and pens that'll get their first workout Friday night. Fans get a new speaker system, plus the two new video boards -- each with a million-dollar price tag -- that grace the arena walls. (And only slightly smaller than the new boards at Cowboys Stadium.)

Nobody's going to mistake Resistol for any of the slightly larger venues around Dallas, and Mesquite Championship Rodeo's managing partner Mike McCall told reporters as much Wednesday, though McCall said he thinks the rodeo's a good fit for these delicate economic times. "We're gonna be the place where you can afford to come here, have fun and be safe," McCall said, announcing cuts the price of rodeo admission, parking, nachos and beer.

Under new management now, in a partnership with the Dallas Mavericks' Donnie Nelson, the rodeo also remodeled its suites and has plans to open a nightclub attached to the arena later this summer.

Wednesday's photo op included a quick bull ride by Athens native Josh Cole (he'll be the one riding Aftermath this weekend), a one-ton picture bull named Bubba, and plenty of folks in cowboy hats sitting thoughtfully on fences. Crank up the Kenny Chesney, check out our slide show, and it's almost like you're there.

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