Bassmaster Classic officials pleased with setup for this year's event
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/21/13 at 9:41 AM
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Bassmaster Classic coverage: Read preview stories, take a Google Earth video tour of Grand Lake and watch interviews with the competitors.
The three-day Bassmaster Classic has been a year in the making for the tournament's organizers, as well as agencies, groups and businesses in northeast Oklahoma. And snow wasn't about to slow them down Wednesday.
"It really has had no impact on what we're doing," said Eric Lopez, the BASS director of event operations. BASS oversees setup at the BOK Center, where weigh-ins will take place Friday through Sunday, and the Tulsa Convention Center, which is hosting the expo.
"Weather - because there's a long drive to the (Grand) lake - is always a concern to us. We're happy to see it's not affecting our operations," Lopez said.
BASS arrived Monday and began unloading and setting up in the BOK Center and Convention Center.
"It's organized chaos. We have timelines for everything. It's really like a construction site at both locations. A lot of prep work has to be done," he said, and as of Wednesday afternoon everything was on schedule. "By far, it's one of the smoothest setups we've had. Credit goes to having a very active local organizing committee."
John Dodd, director of event services for SMG, which manages the BOK Center, said the focus right now is getting all the vendors loaded into the Convention Center for the Outdoor Expo.
"We are making sure there are good water lines for the vendors installing fish tanks, adding any last-minute electrical lines and handling any other vendor requests to ensure they are set up," Dodd said, adding that they are also prepared for inclement weather.
"We have a snow plow on site. Our team is putting down salt and additional mats at entry points. We are brushing off all trailers and vehicles that come in to make sure we don't have safety issues," he said. "These are typical precautions for any event in this type of weather."
Those getting the Grand Lake area ready include the Grand River Dam Authority, the city of Grove, state Departments of Tourism, Transportation and Wildlife Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Earlier this month, the GRDA and several lake-area businesses organized a shoreline cleanup to remove old docks and foam from around the lake before the tournament contestants and officials arrived this week, GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty said.
GRDA Fisheries Coordinator Brent Davis is also working with the anglers and BASS officials this week.
"This morning they had sort of a test launch from the (Wolf Creek) site, and Davis was there to help unload the boats and assist as needed," Alberty said. "At the lake site, GRDA, the Grand Lake Association and the city of Grove are providing support and assistance as needed."
During the three-day event, the GRDA Lake Police will be directing boat traffic and making sure there's a secure lane for the anglers to launch from on the mornings of the tournament.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will bring in extra troopers to augment regular shifts during the tournament, said Capt. George Brown, OHP spokesman.
Troopers will also focus on two areas that will see most of the traffic in and out of Grand Lake, about 100 miles northeast of Tulsa: the Afton gate and toll gates around Vinita, Brown said.
"There will be no fewer than six troopers assigned to the stretch of roadway between the BOK Center and Grand Lake," he said, monitoring the 53 contestants and their vehicles, as well as the bus shuttles for nonparticipants.
Most of the competitors drove the route Wednesday and have maps of the area, including alternate routes in the event of a problem or crash on the highway.
Here is the forecast for the Tulsa area during the three days of fishing in the Bassmaster Classic:
Friday: Partly sunny skies with high near 38, low near 22. Northwest winds at 10-15 mph
Saturday: Mostly cloudy skies with high near 44, low near 20. North morning winds at 5-10 mph, southwest afternoon winds at 5-10 mph. 20 percent chance of rain and snow, with new precipitation amounts of less than one-tenth of an inch possible.
Sunday: Partly sunny skies with high near 60, low near 29. Southeast winds at 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 25-30 mph.
Source: National Weather Service
More Bassmaster coverage
Weekend: Bassmaster edition
Inside today's Tulsa World, you'll find our biggest Weekend magazine yet - 64 pages of restaurant reviews, interviews and what you need to know about the Bassmaster Classic.
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Restaurant reviews: We've got a four-star rating near Grand Lake
Not just bass: Interviews with REO Speedwagon and JD McPherson
Original Print Headline: Smooth operation
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Standing in snowfall at the front of his boat, Edwin Evers casts into Grand Lake during Wednesday's practice session for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic near Grove. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Keeping one hand near a portable heater, Edwin Evers steers his boat into a bay Wednesday during practice for the Bassmaster Classic at Grand Lake. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, gets ready in his boat before a practice day for the Bassmaster Classic on Wednesday at Grand Lake. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Chuck Devereaux, fisherman for Dick's Sporting Goods, nets fish Wednesday as part of the company's exhibition at the Tulsa Convention Center for the Bassmaster Classic. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World