Final Tampa performances of ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ begin Wednesday night

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performers ride camels during a performance Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end the "The Greatest Show on Earth" in May, following a 146-year run of performances. Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, told The Associated Press, declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Wednesday night is the opening night of the “Greatest Show on Earth” at Amalie Arena. It’s also the last time the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will ever be in Tampa. The local company is calling it quits in May.

It’s a show that’s been around for 146 years. Besides the rich tradition the company has brought to the bay area, it’s been a livelihood for hundreds of people.

For many of these performers, the circus is their life.

They come from generations of circus performers, and they live on the massive mile-long circus trains that crawl across the country. Their line of work is specialized. These performers are daredevils. They are BMX trick riders, animal trainers and ring masters.  The president of the company said it’s been a hard decision.

“There’s a lot of people involved that it impacts, and people who in many cases I’ve known for almost 50 years, it’s definitely sad,” said Kenneth Felding

400 people will be out of work. Fifty of them are based here out of the Tampa Bay area. Feld officials admit there aren’t many other positions for these performers inside the company, so they’ll be offering resume help and services to find them work somewhere else.

One of the reasons the Greatest Show on Earth is coming to an end is low ticket sales and high operating costs. But, regardless of the shows’ ending, the show will go on one more time and it’ll be history.

The first show is Wednesday night at 7:30 and continues through Sunday. See ticket info here. 

RELATED: The show won’t go on: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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