New Grand Lake fishing facilities paying off for Grove
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL World Correspondent
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
2/26/13 at 5:20 AM
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Related Story: New Grand Lake fishing facilities paying off for Grove
Original Print Headline: Makeover pays off for Grove
GROVE - City officials in this small Grand Lake community built a new fishing park and the anglers came in droves.
"I said if you will build it, they will come," Grove mayor Marty Follis said, referring to the $3.7 million Wolf Creek Park.
Several thousand fishing enthusiasts from across the country were on Grand Lake last weekend for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic and viewed the park's million-dollar makeover. The new park allows the city to host other fishing tournaments from local to national competitions. The first phase of the proposed angler's paradise included a new dock, additional boat ramps, restrooms and other facilities.
Televised coverage of the tournament will be shown on ESPN this weekend, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.
"Showing the tournament on ESPN is a huge commercial for all of us on Grand Lake," Follis said. "There is no way we could spend that kind of money in advertising dollars."
Follis said he heard compliments all weekend from the anglers, spectators and other people associated with the tournament.
"I heard (Wolf Creek Park) was one of the best in the country - and we are not even done with it," Hollis said.
BASS officials were pleased and several anglers expressed a desire to come back to Grand Lake, he said.
"It's hard to say what the immediate financial impact (of the fishing tournament) will be on Grove," Follis said. "In two months we will have the sales-tax revenue figures and we will have a better idea."
Restaurants that served breakfast lured in the anglers before their early morning launch.
"We got a lot of business," said Jerry Drake, co-owner of Drake's Restaurant.
Drake said the breakfast crowd was up to three times more than their typical breakfast crowd.
"It was a little bit busier than normal," said Chris Baldwin, Tom-Cat Corner convenience store clerk.
Tom-Cat Corner is a 24-hour store where anglers can pick up everything from a sandwich and a lottery ticket to live bait.
"We sold a lot of barbecue," Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the positive effects of the bass tournament will be felt for some time.
"It was crazy," said Sam Williams, owner of the Grand Lake Sports Center, referring to the commotion surrounding the tournament.
Typically, February is the slowest month at the 60-year-old store, known for its dead and live bait and plenty of fish stories. However, during the weekend of the Classic, between 40 and 50 people were in the store all day long, Williams said.
"Sales doubled and there was no parking," Williams said. "People were buying everything - souvenirs, fishing poles and bait."
The big financial payout will come in the future, he said.
Every weekend, except holidays, is booked solid for fishing tournaments, Williams said.
Several thousand people from across the country were able to view the $3.7 million makeover at Wolf Creek Park, shown while still under construction, during the Bassmaster Classic. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World file