February 18, 2013

Bassmaster Classic to boost region's economy

February 18, 2013 Associated Press

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"None of this stuff happens without volunteers," Hoyt said. "Some of these guys have taken days, weeks out of their personal work schedules."

At the heart of events this week is a contest among 53 of the world's best anglers. They had to qualify to compete for a life- and career-changing title with the coveted Bassmaster Classic championship trophy, champion's ring and a $500,000 top prize. The tournament purse is $1.2 million.

The anglers already are on Grand Lake O' The Cherokees for a three-day practice fishing period that runs through Sunday. On Wednesday they will have an official practice, with a sort of dry run at the lake launch site to make sure logistics and timing are set for the weekend.

Friday through Feb. 24, 3,000 to 6,000 spectators are expected lakeside at a sunrise ceremony capped by the official tournament launch at 7 a.m. Spectators and anglers will arrive around 5:30-6 a.m.

The Classic will be the first event to launch from the newly constructed Wolf Creek Boat Park and Ramp at Grove, which is in phase one of a three-phase, multimillion-dollar improvement plan.

The new 22-acre boat launch area is the first large physical example of the lasting impact of the event, Hoyt said.

"That would not have been built if the Bassmaster Classic wasn't coming," he said. "That launch will continue to give people a great experience and easy access to the lake."

Anglers will leave the water before 3 p.m. and drive to Tulsa for the weigh-in show at the BOK Center, a made-for-TV production where each angler arrives before a cheering crowd of thousands with stage production effects, theatrics, big-screen video displays and their own personal blaring theme music.

Available seating will be similar to concert arrangements in the BOK, with one end accommodating the stage, said BASS Director of Event and Tourism Partnerships Michael Mulone.

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