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Bassmaster Classic returning to Upstate in 2018

Hospitality and Tourism
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The world championship for bass fishing will make its return to the Upstate in 2018.

Bruce Akin, CEO of B.A.S.S., announced the 2018 Bassmaster Classic would be hosted by a joint effort between Anderson and Greenville counties. The actual fishing tournament will be held on Lake Hartwell while the daily weigh-ins will be at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and the annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo will be hosted at the TD Convention Center.

The Bassmaster Classic is returning to Lake Hartwell in Anderson County. (Photo by Matthew Clark)Akin said choosing the Upstate was an easy decision given the success of the 2015 Bassmaster Classic that drew over 100,000 visitors, vendors and competitors to the event in the Upstate.

“There are a lot of fishing fans in this area and the people can’t seem to get enough,” Akin said.

Over the last three years, Michael Mulone, director of event and tourism partnerships for B.A.S.S., said the championship has generated between $22 million and $25 million in economic impact for the communities that have hosted. After being in the Upstate in 2015, the tournament was in Tulsa, Okla. in 2016 and will be at Lake Conroe near Houston from March 24-26.

“Every year, no matter the destination, they have all had the impact in that range,” Mulone said.

According to VisitGreenvilleSC, the initial expectation is an impact of over $12 million in direct spending along with nearly 11,000 hotel room nights booked during the event which is scheduled for March 16-18, 2018. Mulone said 4,000 of those room nights will be booked by B.A.S.S.

Now, the tournament boasts national media coverage as it will be streamed on the Watch ESPN app and on ESPN3. Additionally, B.A.S.S. started its Classic Live where cameras are placed in the boats of competitors during the competition that works in conjunction with a live television broadcast throughout the event.

“That has just made the sport better and easier to follow,” Akin said.

One other thing it will do is give the Upstate additional national exposure. That exposure, according to Mulone, was made possible by the collaboration between Visit Anderson, VisitGreenvilleSC, city and county officials in both counties along with the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and TD Convention Center.

“The two communities working together was the deciding factor,” Mulone said. “When you have people working behind all the things we need and they are working together, that is a big thing.”

According to officials, only two other bodies of water will have hosted a Bassmaster Classic tournament more times than Lake Hartwell, after the 2018 event. Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn said the tournament fulfills a want to promote the 56,000-acre lake that sits along the South Carolina-Georgia border.

“We envisioned having something happen with Lake Hartwell because it is a jewel of the area,” Dunn said.

In 2018, there is the expectation of 70,000 visitors or more to the area to the tournament, weigh-ins or outdoor expo. Additionally, officials have seen coverage of past events by over 250 registered media representatives.

“We have a pattern here that has been beneficial to everyone,” said Chris Stone, president and CEO of VisitGreenvilleSC.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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