When word spread the San Antonio Rose Palace was closing, equestrians and residents alike panicked.
“Everyone kept saying on social media that they were razing the Rose Palace and building a strip mall,” said Jose Garza, who lives off Boerne Stage Road near the 71-acre complex, which for four decades served as a nexus for rodeos, dressage, other equine events including the George Strait Team Roping Classic, circuses, music and dances.
Garza and his neighbors can relax. While the property is still owned by country-music legend George Strait, Cass and Courtney Ringelstein have taken the reins as part of their business, CRx4 LLC.
The company is named for the couple and their two sons, Casper, 11, and Cross, 9, who both compete in roping on the youth circuit. Cass Ringelstein has a background in horses, and is president of Round Mountain Horse & Tack Auction.
“At this time, there are no plans to turn the Rose Palace into a strip mall,” Courtney Ringelstein said. “We have leased the Rose Palace. The Rose Palace was once the premier equestrian facility in South Texas and our goal is to make that happen again. It’s great for the local community because it provides revenue into the local businesses. We’re passionate about the western and equine industry.”
Shuttered Aug. 1, 2018, and listed for sale, the facility off Boerne Stage and Toutant Beauregard roads includes two indoor arenas, hundreds of horse stalls, seating for 4,500, and plenty of parking for visitors, horse rigs and recreational vehicles.
Garza said neighbors worried about its possible demise.
“I was really hoping they wouldn’t (close it). It’s sad to see all the former ranchland and staples of the area turning into more cookie-cutter businesses, like the strip mall they just built next to Rudy’s (Country Store in Leon Springs),” Garza said. “It’s ruining the character of the area.”
The Rose Palace is safe, Ringelstein said.
While her husband, who grew up in the rodeo industry, handles the equine aspect, she takes care of the nuts and bolts of the operation. Ringelstein said their goal is to make some necessary improvements and have the facility returned to its former glory.
“I’m the bookkeeper and he’s the brains. That’s how we work together,” Ringelstein said. “We have a great relationship working together. I’m just a city girl who has learned the ways.”
She added, “There are a lot of people involved in the equestrian community and the Rose Palace has such a rich tradition of being the premier equine area. Losing the Rose Palace would be a big impact. The team-roping and hunter/jumper groups were really concerned.”
The Rose Palace resumed some operations late last year and is building a 2019 spring calendar. As the season opens for rodeo, dressage and other activities, riders said they eagerly anticipate returning to the famed arena.
“The San Antonio Rose Palace is such a historic venue for the equestrian community in general, but especially the discipline of team roping,” said Kent Lynch, friend to the Ringelsteins and publisher of the Dally Times, a magazine for team ropers.
“Besides the George Strait Roping, since the early ’90s it has hosted some of the largest amateur events in Texas,” he added. “When word got around that it was closing, ropers were devastated as it’s always been a favorite. As far as venues to host large events, that would have left a hole in South Central Texas. I’ve known Cass and Courtney for more than 10 years and you couldn’t ask for a better pair to manage the Rose Palace. When Cass told me they were taking it over, I knew it was in good hands.”
Also pleased were local business owners.
Louis Barrios, restaurant proprietor for La Hacienda Scenic Loop nearby, said he is glad the complex has a new lease on life.
“I just know the cowboys who would come into La Hacienda Scenic Loop would lament they didn’t have a place to rope and do their competitions,” Barrios said. “One thing I’ve learned from working with George and Linda (Bean, manager for George Strait Productions) is he’s a compassionate man. Mr. Strait is a stand-up guy with great character. When the cowboys came to him asking for him to find someone to take over the lease because it was one of their favorite places, (I think he felt compelled) to help because all those people he roped with are his friends.”
Barrios said the Ringelsteins and those associated with their company have been great neighbors so far.
“They are kind and respectful,” Barrios said. “They’re a pleasure to have next door as a neighbor. I know the cowboys are happy because after roping, they walk over and come sit with us. … They love us being there, we love the new tenants.”
Residents are happy, too.
“If the Rose Palace had left, I would have sat down and cried,” said equestrian and Leon Springs resident Mavis Davidson. “I couldn’t have kept riding if I would have had to drive to Comfort just for a local jump. I hope this works out.”
For more, visit http://www.sarosepalace.com.