Professional Bull Riders chief Sean Gleason came within seconds of canceling Friday’s event at The Spectrum Center after he said arena managers refused to allow a U.S. Customs and Border Protection color guard to enter the building to display the American flag during the national anthem.
In an angry Facebook post, Gleason said managers of the former Time Warner Cable Arena cited “building policy” in asking members of the color guard to relinquish their firearms. They refused, leading to a 90-minute standoff.
Gleason said every Bull Riders event features cowboy athletes honoring the flag, the national anthem and military heroes. “What should have been a two-minute conversation with the (general manager) of the building turned into a 1½ hour runaround…,” Gleason wrote. “We respect the arena’s right to create policy. However, in this case, the policy conflicted with the ability of federal law enforcement officers to perform their duties.”
At 7:59 p.m., a minute before Gleason said he was going to cancel the event, arena officials allowed a Charlotte police officer to escort the federal agents into the building. The bull riding event went on – and returned Saturday night – without a problem.