Kelly Bostian: 2013 Bassmaster Classic to be a major challenge for Tulsa
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
2/28/12 at 5:16 AM
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Original Print Headline: Tulsa has a challenge coming
Normally this would be the day to write about the baits, techniques and conditions, all the challenges involved in catching the monster bass at the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
But rolling north up U.S. 71 out of Shreveport on Monday morning, those were not the items on my mind. If you live in Green Country and you have even a smidge of pride in your community and state, top-of-mind right now needs to be the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
It's coming to Tulsa and Grand Lake next Feb. 22-24, and it will be here before you know it.
I went to Shreveport to cover the Classic competition, particularly the Oklahoma anglers, but an equally important part was to observe and experience as much of the full scene as I could and try to give Green Country readers an idea what's headed their way.
I'll sum it up this way: It's going to be more than you expected.
No matter how big you think you know it is or how well you think Tulsa and Grand Lake are set to handle it, it's going to be more than you expected.
Shreveport and BASS put on one heck of an event for a load of people last week; 100,000 people of all sizes, descriptions and special needs and requests.
It's the kind of thing where every single motel room is filled and the least-crowded restaurants anywhere within a 20-minute drive of downtown have a 45-minute wait for a table at lunchtime.
Shreveport absorbed it really well, and whatever the city did with its bus system was brilliant. I hate riding a bus, hate it. I want my own car, and as a reporter I am loath to give up that control. But most times last week I got from the hotel to the convention center to the launch on the bus and it was no problem. If I needed a bus, there was one close by, and it was usually ready to leave before I could finish jawboning with the local volunteers helping folks find their ride.
I met a lot of nice volunteers and made sure on Sunday that I shook hands and thanked as many of them as I could. They left a nice impression of their community. Kathy Brown, Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau president, told me before the event began that was one of the things their committee emphasized, and that leaving that welcoming impression was a huge deal for them.
She said the most-heard comment about their 2009 event was that people felt the town really rolled out the red carpet for visitors. They wanted to do that again.
"It's a community-wide event," Brown said.
Community-wide, as in something that involves just about everyone in one way or another.
And look, Bubba, maybe all you want to do is catch fish and you're too cool to care, but the prom's coming and you either need to get on board or be sorry later when you figure out if you had manned up, you might have had a chance to actually dance with that pretty girl.
It's that kind of a deal.
A volunteer I met outside the bus at 6 a.m. Sunday said he was doing three shifts that day. "Well, you just want to see it go good," he said.
While I enjoyed the shuttle bus service, I wondered how that will translate to Tulsa. Each morning we were on the bus at 5 a.m. for a 15-minute ride to the launch. In Tulsa, the launch is an hour's drive away at Grand Lake. It's a transportation puzzle that community leaders will have to solve, and they may already have ideas, but they won't get it done without help from ordinary folks who volunteer.
The launches don't draw crowds that are as big as the weigh-in or the Expo, but 3,000 people is a mess of folks to pile around a marina that is designed for the purpose of housing and launching watercraft, not hosting a stadium event.
Making sure no one falls into the drink or gets run over by a bus or boat trailer is a challenge. Not to mention being prepared to handle people who seek to do some harm.
I've heard people say we have tournaments at Grand Lake all the time with a lot more than 50 boats. Sure, maybe we can handle a 200-boat tournament just fine, but those tournaments don't involve accommodating 3,000 spectators of all physical abilities, aged 1 to 100, in weather conditions that may be just a tad less than favorable.
That is a huge challenge, Tulsa, and it's just the tip of a big ol' iceberg.
Shreveport navigated the seas without sinking. Will Tulsa?
I imagine so, but whatever we plan, whatever we do - if it's anything like what I saw this week - when it's all over, trust me, a whole bunch of us are going to think, "Wow, that was even more than I expected."