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3 crosses / Ken Lance Arena History

The History

The following is a quick summary of Ropin' the Dream: The Story of the Ken Lance Sports Arena, 1964-1994 - written by Ruth Lance Wester and June Proctor


Oklahoma cowboy Ken Lance turned a watermelon patch into a showcase rodeo arena, bringing champions out of the chutes and Nashville stars on stage. They said it couldn't be done.

When Oklahoma trick roper Ken Lance married Ruth Whitlock, he knew he had found the woman who would share his rodeo cowboy dream. She rode into the arena in Chicago, December 1961, as the rodeo princess, and returned with Ken to Oklahoma as his wife and business partner for the next twenty-five years.

Together, with their dads, the four of them combined their rescources to build the Ken Lance Sports Arenaand restored the annual Ada rodeo to it's pre-World War II glory, as the second largest outdoor rodeo in the nation.

From the dirt-poor days of the rodeo cowboy in the 1960's to the millionaire cowboys of the 1980's and 1990's; Ken and Ruth worked to produce a professional rodeo at a price that ordinary folks could afford.

The Dream and a new Purpose

 The Following was taken from the Easter Sunday Edition of the Daily Oklahoman 2008:

ADA — A pallbearer at the 2006 funeral of rodeo legend Ken Lance said the Ada cowboy would probably try to start a rodeo "up yonder” in heaven. 

Hearing these words, the Rev. Randall Christy smiled. He knew in one way, Lance's next rodeo would be a lot closer to home.

An effort is under way to breathe new life and purpose into the popular rodeo arena Lance built in the 1960s.

On a hill down the road from Christy's Union Valley Baptist Church, the Ken Lance Sports Arena is being resurrected for rodeo Bible camps, cowboy-themed vacation Bible school, Cowboy church and Christian concerts.

The arena once hosted all manner of rodeo events, from trick roping and barrel racing to cowgirl rodeos and steer roping as a premier Oklahoma rodeo facility.

Country and western entertainers such as Oklahoma's Reba McEntire as well as Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson and George Jones sang to star-struck fans in an adjacent dance pavilion.

The arena's rebirth is through 3-Crosses Ministries, a non-profit headed by Randall Christy. The Southern Baptist pastor said Lance rededicated his life to the Lord at one of the Gospel Station Network's cowboy round-up outreach events a few years before his death at age 78.

Christy, as well as Lance's former wife Ruth Lance Wester, said the rodeo giant would be "thrilled” that his beloved arena once again bears his name and is being transformed into a place where youths can connect with the world of cowboys and the Gospel.

Now the three steel crosses that sit atop the arena's entrance, so poignant at Easter time, serve as powerful symbols of the new purpose for the property.

"We want to recognize the decision that Ken made in his life to follow the Lord,” Christy said. "He believed in anything pointing people to the cross, the way of the cross.”

Christy said the idea to transform the old arena into a ministry site started to take shape when a board member of the Gospel Station Network acquired the property and recommended it be used to spread the Gospel.

The Gospel Station Network, headed by Christy, is a group of radio stations that serve as a ministry network across Oklahoma and globally. Christy said he loved the idea, and 3-Crosses Ministries began to renovate the arena. He said he liked the concept of taking the arena, a legendary Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association venue for several decades, and making it over into a place where youths can learn more about the Lord.

"A lot of people who knew Ken, and really believe in helping kids, have formed this organization for Christian cowboys to come and talk to youths and attend camps,” Christy said.

Christy said the renovation is an interdenominational effort "because this is a vision that a lot of people shared.”


***Three Crosses Church Inc is a ministry partner with the Gospel Station Network (SCOCBI).
The Gospel Station does not own nor operate the Three Crosses Church Inc.***


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