The Super Bowl of bass fishing is coming back to northeast Oklahoma in 2016.
The Bassmaster Classic could set a new record for the largest tourist event ever held in Tulsa.
It was a record for Tulsa the first time, two years ago, when 107,000 fans showed up to see the fishing and the finale at the BOK Center.
The announcement came a week short of a year away from the Championship. For such a big event that's little time to get ready, but Tulsa's past performance putting it on helped B.A.S.S. make the decision to return.
3/9/2015 Related Story: Bassmaster Classic Returning To Grand Lake, Tulsa in March 2016
“Tulsa became the new standard of how to do it, when we were here last time,” said Bruce Akin with B.A.S.S.
Despite the bitter cold, the Classic in 2013 drew a near-record crowd at Grand Lake.
Next year, partly because of the weather - and to accommodate other fishing industry events - the Classic will be two weeks later than usual, the first weekend in March.
Bassmaster Elite Series Angler, Edwin Evers said, “The fishing is going to be that much better, and with everything going on that weekend - with the Daytona 500 - we're going to have more fans moving here from all over the country for this event and it's going to be awesome.”
Little else is changing - the fishing will be at Grand Lake and the weigh-ins each night at the BOK Center.
The convention center will host a large trade show and the economic impact is only expected to grow.
“In numbers, economic impact and visitor wise and visibility, three hours of northeast Oklahoma on ESPN, we've never had anything bigger,” said VisiTulsa Chair, Jeff Stava.
The B.A.S.S. organization said 20 percent of its members are in Oklahoma or a neighboring state and 10 percent of its members are within 300 miles of Tulsa.
The people who sold B.A.S.S. on Tulsa for the second time said nothing beats a good track record.
“We really committed to doing a world-class Classic, and we delivered on that, and I don't think it was a matter of whether they would come back, it was when,” said Ray Hoyt with VisiTulsa.
The classic is March 4th through 6th next year.
An organizer said, already, they've booked a block of 7,000 to 8,000 hotel rooms for the event.