The 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods made more than a splash last month in Knoxville in that not only did a son of Knoxville win the “Super Bowl of bass fishing,” but also, attendance records were set, the city and the region benefited economically with tourism and exposure to the world of professional bass fishing.
This year’s Classic was held in Knoxville for the first time in the world championship bass fishing tournament’s 49-year history. Visit Knoxville Sports Commission released its economic impact study Monday on the tourney,concluding that Knoxville and East Tennessee netted about $32.2 million.
The impact reflects a 34 percent increase over the $24 million recorded for Greenville and Anderson, S.C. in 2018, according to the study.
Attendance records were shattered in Knoxville from 2018 to 2019: The Classic on Lake Hartwell, S.C., drew a record attendance of 143,000. Knoxville’s attendance soared at 153,800 were counted at the various Classic venues in town, the study said.
“The 2019 Bassmaster Classic really blew us out of the water,” said Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville. “The crowds, the enthusiasm, the economic impact were all but unprecedented.”
The study also finding that the Classic provided a direct economic impact of $17.7 million and an indirect boost in business sales of $14.5 million.
The event is credited with generating $2.75 million in state and local tax revenue, including taxes on sales, restaurant purchases and lodging.
Classic attendees, who traveled to Knoxville from almost every state and foreign countries as far away as Australia, Japan and Italy, paid for $29,232 room nights in local hotels, according to Visit Knoxville.
The tourney, which happened March 15-17, was spread out from the Tennessee River into downtown at the Knoxville Convention Center and onto the University of Tennessee at the Thompson-Boling Arena. The convention center and World’s Fair Park were where tournament vendors participated in the Outdoor Expo and visitors could watch demos and participate in giveaways and buy coveted fishing gear. The arena was where bass anglers brought in each day’s catch for the official weigh-ins.
Entry to those events were free to the public.
MORE | View the full report here
Tennessee has been picked for B.A.S.S. tournaments before. Cherokee Lake and other local East Tennessee lakes have been the locations of past smaller, qualifying tournaments that brought in professional bass anglers.
No word yet on where the 2020 Classic will be held.