Marshall County Leaders Say Bassmaster Classic Could Have Lasting Long-Term Impact

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The 2014 Bassmaster Classic brought in record-breaking crowds to Marshall County, but after the tournament ended it was met with mixed opinions from business owners on how it impacted the county.

Evidence the Bassmaster Classic was held in Guntersville is scattered throughout the city. Signs welcoming the pros and the crowds are still displayed at local businesses.

A total crowd of nearly 12,000 came to watch the blast-off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tournament officials say that’s the largest crowd at a launch in the Classic’s history.

After the blast-off was over though, many of those people headed out of town, causing a stir with some local business owners who were prepared for those thousands to stay and shop. 

Some business owners say they were happy with the business the tournament brought into town, but others say they’re disappointed.

County leaders say holding the Classic in Guntersville isn’t just about the short-term impact.

“Being able to bid and get the coverage from just hosting the event is going to have the long-term impact, we hope the long-term positive impact for our community,” Marshall County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau President Katy Norton says.

Norton says the area was broadcast on a nationwide level, advertising the county in a way officials couldn’t have done otherwise.

She says Monday morning she fielded calls from people from out of state who had watched the Classic, and wanted to come to Guntersville for a vacation.

Norton says that’s why they strive to host events like the Classic.

“To have people come and spend some time with us and hopefully be return visitors,” Norton says.

Norton says they’re working on preliminary reports to find out how much money the Classic brought to the area.
The county, several local businesses and the police department started preparing for the Classic a year ago.
The weigh-in for the Classic was held in Birmingham. County leaders say that’s because there aren’t any facilities in the immediate area or Huntsville that could handle an event with such enormity as the weigh-in.

7 comments

  • Emilia Rotorwhiz

    Actually Huntsville would have been a better choice for the Arena and would have been closer. Nobody would have been in such a hurry to make it out of Guntersville and would shop longer.

  • Donna Gardner

    I appreciate Laura Christmas and WHNT News 19 staying on top of this.
    There is a lot more to the story than is being told. Merchants and restaurants were told by the Bassmaster Alabama rep Kaye Donaldson in a September meeting at the Chamber of Commerce that we would have 10,000 people at least on the dock every morning and that Bassmaster fans were like NASCAR fans on crack. She told us not to run out of merchandise, as these fans would be on the sidewalks looking for something to do after the Blast-Off every morning. She also said that the anglers themselves would bring in hundreds of family members – not just their wives, but extended family, as well. We were encouraged to open early. We were told by the Chamber of Commerce up to the day of the event that the prime shopping times would be 7 – 10 a.m.

    What actually transpired was that the 3,000 more or less who showed up for the Classic Blast-Off did not fill our sidewalks looking for something to do. In fact, after the pre-fish, most of the anglers and their families went to Birmingham. Turns out most of the fans were staying there,as well. Bassmaster saw fit to bus the anglers’ families to the Blast-Off each morning and announce that the bus was loading in 15 minutes following the Blast-Off. At 6:30 a.m., parking spaces downtown were full. By 7:40, downtown Guntersville was a ghosttown. All three days.

    Some businesses did not get one Bassmaster fan the entire tournament nor the week leading up to the tournament.

    I can’t speak for all the businesses downtown, but I think most are stunned, extremely disappointed, angered, saddened. We have many questions as to why we were told all the things Ms. Donaldson told us when Bassmaster was planning such a big deal in Birmingham and were going to bus the families out.

    In fact, if you look at the posters and tee shirts for the event, the town of Guntersville is not even mentioned. The Bassmaster Classic 2014 was billed as “Birmingham – Lake Guntersville.”

    The spin now being touted is that the Classic is going to mean so much in the long run and the years to come for Guntersville Lake.

    The only time Ms. Donaldson mentioned long range was to say that records were expected to fall and if that happened, Guntersville would benefit because everyone would want to fish “Lake Guntersville.”

    Merchants and restaurants put a lot of extra money on extra mechandise and extra employees. Stores and restaurants opened early. All efforts were based on what we were told by Ms. Donaldson. We did what we were advised to do by the representative who was sent to give us information on how to prepare.

    Thanks again for your coverage, Laura. We hope you will do a couple of more follow-ups and find out whether or not Guntersville reaped any of the 20 million in expected revenue from the Classic.

  • Mark J.

    This is real good example of local representatives or politicians being way out of their league in negotiating this deal. We should have never agreed to the Bass Masters Classic being fished here and weighed in anywhere else! Lake Guntersville is the attraction here! That gives us all the cards while negotiating. We have local businesses that are operating here and depend on people coming in from out of town and enjoying our lake and spending money here! Not Birmingham! Our local economy is this lake. As far as I can tell the only businesses that made money off the classic were the places that sold sausage biscuits because everyone was gone by 9 A.M. Great job whoever set this up. Amateur!

    • scott

      Mark ,you are right, if some one does not thing the city leaders are not out of touch, just get to a city counsel meeting. Its amateur hour there.

  • Nuclear Mike

    Gee…City of Guntersville Leaders…you sold out your home town with not even so much as an “honorable mention”…now y’all may understand why your City remains just a “boat ramp” on the Tennessee River…so one can say it was the City leaders “on vrack” and not NASCAR’s fans…a total pack of lies for the “boat ramp” City on the Tennessee River.

  • doodlesockin

    If you like your bass tourney promo, you can keep your bass tourney promo. Sound familiar? Hook, line, and sinker. Sounds as if perhaps Bass Masters took the “lead by example” of the current Oblunder administration.

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