March 12, 2010

A California Bassmaster Classic?

The first Bassmaster's Classic was held on Lake Mead in Nevada, but ever since then they have always been held in the deep south with the occassional northern event.  Now it looks like Sacramento, CA is bidding on the 2013 Classic and would hold in on the Delta.  I think this would be great for West Coast fans.  Here is the article from the local newspaper:


Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 12:51 a.m.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Bassmaster Classic, America’s oldest and most prestigious bass fishing tournament, may be heading to California’s Delta, land of big bass and even bigger controversies.

In its storied 40-year history, the Bassmaster Classic has been held west of the Mississippi River once, and that was the inaugural event organized by BASS founder Ray Scott on Lake Mead in 1971. That could change in 2013 if a Sacramento sports group can persuade BASS to bring the world’s biggest fishing show to California and the Delta, where smelt and water issues are much bigger concerns than fishing.

“It’s going to be a challenging bid, but it’s a very doable one, and we’re very seriously looking at it,” said John McCasey, executive director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. “It’s a big ask, no question, a very big ask. That’s not to mean we can’t do it or don’t want to do it. We know they’ll come here and invest a lot of money in the community in the way of advertising and marketing. We’re looking at a $500,000 investment. But we want to bring this to the West Coast because we believe we have the natural resources and the venue for it. We hope to put in a bid next month.”

ESPN/BASS officials and anglers here for the Bassmaster Classic were asked about the prospect of going to Sacramento in 2013, and the general response was positive.

“Having it on the West Coast will give the Classic a lot of attention and be a great move for BASS to do it,” said former San Diegan Dean Rojas, here for his eighth Bassmaster Classic.

BASS announced Thursday it will return to Shreveport-Bossier City for the 2012 Classic. The 2009 Classic there broke all attendance records for its expo and weigh-ins, drawing 137,000 fans in three days, topping the old mark by more than 50,000. Next year, BASS returns to New Orleans and the Louisiana Delta for the fourth time in 13 years.

“We are having some conversations with Sacramento and other cities,” said Michael Mulone, director of site selection and event marketing for ESPN/BASS. “The Sports Commission in Sacramento has brought some great events to that city, and we’re learning more about that city, what the Commission wants to do and what they’re interested in doing to host the Classic.”

Mulone said BASS has strict requirements that must be met before it considers putting the Classic in any city. He said the convention center must be big enough to host the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo that features fishing tackle and boat manufacturers, sponsors, vendors and exhibitors.

McCasey said the Sacramento Convention Center, with 130,000 square feet of exhibitor space, and ARCO Arena, which has 17,000 seats, would be plenty big enough for the Classic needs. He said the city’s NBA franchise, the Kings, would have to cooperate, but he didn’t see a problem.

Jamie Wilkinson, BASS senior director of event operations and business development, said the big concern will be the Classic’s ability to draw fans. California has 28,000 BASS members, second to Texas with 42,000 members. Wilkinson envisions a major marketing campaign to promote the event.

California has three anglers who live in the Golden State and fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. They are Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese of Auburn, Ish Monroe of Hughson and Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande. Reese actually had tears well up in his eyes when told that Sacramento likely will put a bid in next month for the Classic.

“Wow,” Reese said. “They had that huge crowd in Shreveport, but I can’t imagine how big the crowd would be in Sacramento. That’s emotional. … That’s breaking every barrier in pro bass fishing. I’m trying to imagine how I’d feel pulling into the arena and having a home-field advantage like that. It would be huge, huge for the sport. It’d be huge for BASS.”
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