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Upstate impact of Bass Pro/Cabelas merger unknown

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Outdoor outfitter Bass Pro Shops announced Monday it had entered into a definitive agreement to purchase rival Cabela’s for approximately $5.5 billion, or $65.50 per share.

Locally, officials in both Greenville and Spartanburg said they have heard nothing new regarding how the merger plans may impact the Cabela’s store location on Woodruff Road in Greenville or the Bass Pro Shop development planned in Spartanburg County.

“I had not called and had not fielded a call, nor had I heard anything,” said Mark Farris, president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corp. “Normally, if something is going on, we may have heard about it.”

One big question surrounds the large development Bass Pro Shops announced in 2014 that has yet to break ground.

Bass Pro announced its Spartanburg County development in April 2014 to be located on a 75-acre tract on I-85 and Highway 101 in between Spartanburg and Greenville. The company said a Bass Pro Shops store will “be the primary anchor” for a development that will include retail, hotels and restaurants.

Initial plans for the development includes an Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill located inside the Bass Pro Shops store.

“I did ask, up front, if the deal goes through would it have any impact on the Spartanburg facility and I was told it was comparing apples and oranges,” said David Britt, chairman of the Spartanburg County Economic Futures Committee and member of the Spartanburg County Council. “The Spartanburg facility is meant to be a destination facility and they want to develop it into something that is a totally different concept.

“I haven’t been told to back off. I have been told to keep going.”

He said recent interest in the Spartanburg County location indicated to him that residents want the destination location in the county and “that is a big positive to me.”

“I have people ask about when Bass Pro is coming and that just goes to show the interest,” Britt said. “It will take them one year from the time they turn dirt and they plan to do some cool things. We continue to work with them and all of our discussions have been positive. When they drop the green flag, we will be ready to go.”

Calls to Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela’s and Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops were not returned. But, in an open letter to customers, Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner said company operations are not expected to change as the merger will not be complete until the first half of 2017.

“Until closing, Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops will continue to operate as separate, independent companies, as they always have,” Millner said, in his letter.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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