The BASS Masters Classic is coming to Baltimore and the Upper Chesapeake Bay the week of Aug. 18, reportedly at a cost to the state of approximately $350,000. So, what makes a fishing tournament with a 40-man field worth that kind of investment?
A few years ago, Dr. Hobson Bryan, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Alabama, researched the Classics held in Louisville, Ky., Pine Bluff, Ark., and Chattanooga, Tenn., so that inquiring minds might know.
The study, "Socioeconomic Impacts of a Major Event: The BASS Masters Classic," was funded through a cooperative agreement between the University of Alabama and Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the organization that puts on the Classic.
The study included entrance surveys of 1,082 attendees at the Classic outdoors show and weigh-ins to determine the number of out-of-towners and their length of stay, turnstile counts to determine indoor attendance (police estimates were used for outdoors events) and interviews with key state and local representatives.
The most immediate impact comes from direct expenditures (lodging, meals, local transportation), which is "new" money in the local economy.
Bryan's findings are illuminating, and the following is a look at the brightest points in the study.
Sudden impact: Louisville ('87)
* Out-of-towners: Adjustments to turnstile counts at the outdoors show and weigh-ins determined that 24,059 out-of-towners attended the Classic. The average travel party was 2.27 people, or 10,599 travel units. At an average of 1.63 nights in Louisville, the travel units spent 17,276 night/days in town.
According to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, between $460 and $500 are spent for a 3 1/2 -day stay. Based on the low figure and adjusting for the average stay of a Classic spectator, the travel figure per unit is $214.36 and a conservative figure for total direct expenditures for out-of-towners is $3,703,283. Using Convention and Visitors Bureau figures for a major trade show for the same-length stay, [$660 for a 3 1/2 -day stay] the figure becomes $5,315,134.
* BASS tournament expenditures: In the Louisville area, approximately $482,500 was spent by BASS for food, entertainment, publicity, supplies, printing, photography, equipment rental, lodging and other expenses for a traveling party of 436 people.
* Tournament pros: The 35 tournament fishermen who pre-fished, or practiced, for the Louisville Classic spent an average of 3.9 days in the area at a cost of $160 per day for a total expenditure of $21,840.
* Trade and sales representatives: The 102 exhibitors in the outdoors show spent an average of $2,193.41 or $223,727.82 during their stay in Louisville.
* Total new money: The Classic injected from $4,431,351 to $6,043,202 in the Louisville economy.
* Multipliers: Once new money has been brought in, it is quickly circulated through the local economy. Using a multiplier of 2.9634 (established in the study) to account for the number of times Classic dollars would circulate in the local economy, the total economic impact escalated to between $13,131,865 and $17,908,424.
Prolonged effects: Pine Bluff, Chattanooga
* Pine Bluff (1984 and 1985): According to the Pine Bluff Convention Center, one of the major results of having the Classic there is that major tournaments have followed -- including U.S. Bass, Military Bass, Bass Clubs of America and the Grand National.
Boat and tackle sales have increased, as have sales of out-of-state fishing licenses.
There also has been a carry-over effect in tourism, as bass fishermen have come to the spot where Rick Clunn set a record with a 75-pound total catch.
* Chattanooga (1986): According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Classic put the city and its water resources on the map. During the next year, seven national-level tournaments were held out of Chattanooga, and the momentum was maintained, including some tournaments that drew 300 entrants. Figures for the impact of these tournaments were not available.
So what is it that Bryan has to say that relates to Baltimore an its Classic?
The immediate impact of the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing will be considerable, the carry-over effect will be worth noting -- and a lot of people in our area who never have and never will pick up a fishing rod stand to benefit.