Bassmaster Classic is fishing's main event
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 8:42 AM
Watch a narrated aerial tour of Grand Lake on Google Earth. Play the Weigh-In challenge contest and win prizes. Read all our coverage and watch videos of the anglers discussing the event.
It's a contest, a TV production, a stage show, a family-oriented weekend event, a sporting goods show, a tourist destination, a celebration, and a chance for a career angler to make his mark on history; it's the Bassmaster Classic and since Tulsa and Grand Lake O' the Cherokees were announced as the 2013 venue people have been saying the 43rd Classic may be the biggest yet.
Booked for Feb. 22-24 at Grand Lake, the BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa will begin arriving a week ahead of the event to practice fishing and to attend sponsor events and banquets.
Tulsa Sports Commission organizers say 3,000 or more daily spectators might crowd in to see the launch at sunrise at Wolf Creek Park.
Media and VIPs will total 350 or so. ESPN will be on the ground and overhead in a helicopter. Dozens of fans in boats will follow anglers on the water, more than 100,000 are expected to filter through the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors EXPO presented by Dick's Sporting Goods at the Convention Center, and the weigh-in at the BOK Center is expected to attract capacity crowds, especially Saturday and Sunday.
There is no admission fee; all events are free and open to the public.
The commission issued numbers predicting more than 100,000 visitors and an economic benefit of up to $26 million. Comparisons have been drawn between Tulsa and when the Classic first came to Shreveport, La., where 137,000 patrons shattered all attendance records in 2009.
Anglers, BASS officials, bass industry writers and local business leaders are unanimous in their statements that Tulsa and Grand Lake will draw a big crowd.
It starts with the location.
"This is the farthest north and west it's ever been held," said 2012 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan. "I know I have 10 times the people coming to watch me as I normally do and, not just people coming to watch me, a lot of people are coming from Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, even Colorado because it's never been this close before."
It's closer to Kansas City, but still relatively close to past venues in Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana.
Top angler Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., said the location figures into it for people in the far north as well. "We will have a big contingent, bigger than usual," he said. "That two, three hours less driving time makes a difference for people."
Immediate support from businesses and community leaders, Tulsa's reputation as a great outdoor community and its history with the fishing industry, and proximity of the BOK Center for a weigh-in venue to the Tulsa Convention Center as the EXPO site all figured into the decision to bring the Classic to Tulsa, said Michael Mulone, director of event and tourism partnerships for BASS.
The Tulsa Sports Commission and dozens of community and business leaders pulled together more than a year ago to start the process. The numbers involved in the process continue to grow. Mulone said the BASS organization alone will bring nearly 200 staff and sub-contractors to town to put on the show. Tulsa organizers will train and recruit hundreds of volunteers to do everything from helping as tour guides to directing parking lot traffic.
"The venues, the people, support from the business community, that's what it takes to bring the Bassmaster Classic to your town," Mulone said. "We're looking forward to reaching new fans that have never seen the event before and to help them find out what we're all about."
2013 Bassmaster Classic Presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
Feb. 22-24, All venues free and open to the public
Launch event: Daily 6-7 a.m. at Wolf Creek Park and Boat Ramp, Grove
Field: 53 of the world's best anglers
First prize: $500,000 with World Champion trophy and Bassmaster Classic Champion ring
Total purse: $1.2 million
Weigh-in show: Doors open at 3 p.m. daily, BOK Center, Tulsa
OUTDOOR EXPO PRESENTED BY DICK'S SPORTING GOODS
Venue: Tulsa Convention Center
Friday: Noon-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
BASS BASH STREET FAIR
Venue: Third Street between the BOK Center and Convention Center
Opens 11 a.m. daily
Original Print Headline: Grand Event
Kelly Bostian 918-581-8357
JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file
Chris Lane hoists a large bass after realizing he had won the Bassmaster Classic during weigh-ins on the final day of the 2012 tournament in Shreveport, La. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file