Sports event

A major sporting event is coming to Knoxville, and it’s considered a “Super Bowl” equivalent.

Bassmaster Classic, dubbed the “Super Bowl of bass fishing,” returns to Knoxville for the second time next spring and will bring some of the world’s best fishing competitors to two lakes on the Tennessee River.

If the 2019 Classic is any indication, Knoxville should expect a significant boost to the local economy. A record 153,809 people attended the Classic in Knoxville three years ago, according to Visit Knoxville, resulting in a $32.2 million impact on East Tennessee.

To put that into perspective, the March Madness games in Tulsa generated an economic impact of $9 million in the same year, according to Tulsa World.

Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes will host the 2023 competition, March 24-26.

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Fishing takes over several local sites

The lakes have proven to be a “full buffet” for bass anglers, according to a BASS press release.

The survival rate of bass fish at the annual Bassmaster Classic is close to 100%. It wasn’t always the case, but the mesh bags and 600-gallon fish trucks used at the 2019 event helped preserve fish life before they were released back into the water.

The boats will be launched from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville, and the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus will host daily weigh-ins.

Bassmaster: Professional fishermen used to fry their bass – but traps keep them alive

The annual Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo will be held in the Knoxville Convention Center and World’s Fair Exhibit Hall. Nearly 93,000 people attended the expo in 2019, according to the turnstile count.

A technician with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency monitors the water quality where the bass are after they were weighed in at the Bassmaster Classic on Friday, March 15, 2019. The bass are released into Fort Loudon Lake at locations TWRA don't will not reveal.

Knoxville hosted Elite Series events in 2017 and 2021, and the 2019 Classic was considered “one of the most successful and well-received Classics of all time,” according to the release.

About the Bassmaster Contest

The Classic will feature 55 anglers, who will qualify through the Bassmaster Elite Series and other events before competing for the top prize of $300,000 and a purse of more than $1 million, according to the release. .

Ott DeFoe celebrates as his weigh-in gives him the lead in the Bassmaster Classic on Sunday, March 17, 2019. Fifty-five anglers will return to Knoxville for next year's competition, which Visit Knoxville hopes will surpass 2019's record-breaking success .

Hometown angler Ott DeFoe won in 2019. The Knoxville native was already an accomplished angler, according to previous reports from Knox News, having won $1.3 million in 103 tournaments before winning the Classic prize .

Competitors will be allowed to fish in both lakes, according to the release, as the twin reservoirs – totaling 30,000 acres – are connected by a canal.

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Analyze the economic impact

The impact of $32.2 million in 2019 comes from a direct economic impact of $17.7 million and an indirect increase in business sales of $14.5 million.

Approximately $2.75 million was generated in state and local tax revenue, including taxes on sales, restaurant purchases and lodging.

Knoxville hosted 29,232 cumulative nights at local hotels during the 2019 event, with people traveling from nearly every state and from countries as far afield as Australia, Japan and Italy.

Ryan Wilusz: Knoxville downtown explorer and urban journalist
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Bassmaster Classic fishing event returns to Knoxville in 2023