Norris didn’t seek naming rights
Out of respect for Bob Norris, one of the region's most prominent ranchers and philanthropists, the Penrose Equestrian Center's
name has been changed to the Norris-Penrose Events Center.
“He's been a tremendous supporter of this community,” said Rob Alexander, vice president of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation, which took over the 60-acre center on Rio Grande Street from El Paso County in January. “He's been very, very philanthropic over the years, and always been a patron of rodeo.”
Norris has donated money to the foundation's charity for military wives many times in the past, but it was his “significant contribution” (amount undisclosed) to a $2 million fund drive for upgrading the center's facilities that led the foundation board to give him naming rights, Alexander said.
He added that Norris did not make the donation because he wanted naming rights. “We actually had to lean on him to change the name,” Alexander said. “His suggestion was that we leave Penrose (as part of the name) because he (early 1900s benefactor Spencer Penrose) started this thing. I thought that was pretty gracious of him.”
Norris, now in his early 70s, owns the T Cross ranch that straddles I-25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. He and his wife, Jane, have four children.
Norris gained unsought notoriety in the 1960s, when by chance the Marlboro cigarette company made him one of its “Marlboro men.” He appeared in magazines and on billboards in that pose for 12 years - although he himself was not a smoker - and eventually quit the ad because of tobacco's health dangers. Much of Norris' biography is told in a 2001 non-fiction book, “The Cowboy and His Elephant,” by Malcolm MacPherson.
Norris is not actively involved with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation at this time, but Alexander would like him to come on to the foundation board. He pointed out that Norris, also a past president of the Cattlemen's Association, served 35 years ago on the committee that decided to move Pen-rose Stadium from the Broadmoor to its current Westside location.
The change in the operation's name from “Equestrian” to “Events” stems from a recognition that the operation offers more than just horse-related activities, explained Bill Miller, the center's general manager. For instance, the schedule for 2004 includes home shows, the Highland Games and a monster truck event.
To the new name, the foundation has also added a tagline: “Home of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.” Although not part of the official name, Alexander said the tagline may appear in certain uses, i.e., Norris-Penrose Events Center - Home of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.
Westside Pioneer article