February 18, 2013

Bassmaster Classic to boost region's economy

February 18, 2013 Associated Press

(Continued)

The 18,500-seat BOK Center typically hosts about 13,000 for a concert; but for this event, additional floor space is used for pulling in anglers' trucks and boats and for television and stage production equipment. An exact number for seating is to be determined.

"We'll go over things with the fire marshal on Monday," Mulone said.

The three-day contest features all 53 anglers Friday and Saturday, with the field cut to the top 25 for Sunday's finale. Each day, each angler is allowed to weigh five bass - if they can catch that many - and the winner is the one with the heaviest combined weight. The fish are kept alive (anglers are penalized if fish die) and returned to the lake via a hatchery truck operated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

While crowds are expected to pack the BOK Center for the weigh-in, the turnstile-turner is the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo, which has booked every bit of floor space in the Tulsa Convention Center. To boot, the Sports Commission arranged to have Third Street blocked off between the BOK and the Convention Center to create a fan zone dubbed Bass Bash.

The Expo is a draw with professional anglers and celebrity sportsmen interacting with fans and often holding impromptu fishing instruction sessions at their sponsor booths. The early season timing also makes it the debut venue for new fishing and outdoor sports products, often sold at a discount.

"It's a destination event," Mulone said.

Lifetime BASS members and BASS Nation members often attend year after year. BASS - the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society - is a 500,000-member organization devoted to bass fishing and conservation.

Classic event planners explain that the draw of BASS members, the added visitation to Tulsa and visibility nationally is how a single event becomes an effort for community improvement.

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