50th Bassmaster Classic launches

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Legacy Arena in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex was packed for weigh-ins during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic at Birmingham and Lake Guntersville; crowds are expected to break records in 2020 as the event celebrates its 50th year. Photo: B.A.S.S.

Legacy Arena in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex was packed for weigh-ins during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic at Birmingham and Lake Guntersville; crowds are expected to break records in 2020 as the event celebrates its 50th year. Photo: B.A.S.S.

The Bassmaster Classic is returning to its roots for its 50th anniversary, kicking off this morning on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.

The tournament will be held through Sunday with daily weigh-ins and the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo taking place at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham, according to B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

This Bassmaster Elite Series tournament season carries the theme: “The Year of the Fan” — “our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the millions of bass fishing fans who make this sport so great,” said Akin.

The Classic was first held at Lake Mead, Nev., in October 1971. The tournament was the brainchild of B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott, who wanted a way to determine an ultimate champion at the end of every tournament season. It has since been held in Alabama 12 times, eight of those in Birmingham.

The Classic will feature live coverage online.

Organizers are expecting record crowds at this year’s event, despite coronavirus thwarting travel plans for some companies and potential attendees.

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville, Tenn., was recognized as a 2019 Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism in the mid-market division by Sports Destination Management. With a record crowd of 153,809 spectators, the 2019 Bassmaster Classic generated an economic impact of $32.2 million for Knoxville and east Tennessee.

The Expo, which was held March 15-17 in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, drew a record total attendance of 92,819 over the three days it was open.

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