GREENVILLE, S.C. — The 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods over the weekend attracted record attendance from bass fishing fans, B.A.S.S. officials announced today.
Starting with Fan Appreciation Day Thursday through bass tournament competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a total attendance of 143,323 was recorded at one or more of the activities, according to law enforcement counts, host facilities officials and other independent sources.
The previous record was 137,700, set in 2009 at the Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La. The 2017 Classic in Houston last March drew 115,000 fans to Lake Conroe and downtown Houston venues.
“This record-breaking attendance would not have been possible without the loyalty of our fans and the partnerships between B.A.S.S. and our sponsors, exhibitors, the media and our host communities — Visit Greenville and Visit Anderson,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “We’re thankful for the hard work of the entire B.A.S.S. family and our great volunteers in Greenville and Anderson who made this Classic such a success, and we are grateful to the devoted B.A.S.S. members and fans of the Classic anglers who came to Greenville and Anderson in record numbers.”
“The Upstate’s beautiful outdoors shines even brighter when we welcome B.A.S.S. to the community,” said Chris Stone, president, VisitGreenvilleSC. “We have been able to create a first-rate partnership with B.A.S.S. that we hope to continue for years to come. Something very special happens when we host these anglers, sponsors and enthusiastic followers to Upstate South Carolina. We can’t wait to serve as host again soon.”
Fans in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena stayed through the entire weigh-in to watch one of the most exciting finishes in the 48-year history of the Bassmaster Classic. Jordan Lee, a 26-year-old former college bass fishing champion from Alabama, performed final-day heroics for the second consecutive year to claim bass fishing’s most prestigious title. Lee is the youngest of three anglers to win the Classic back-to-back. The others are Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam, who each have four Classic victories in their careers.
In addition to the daily weigh-ins, huge crowds attended the takeoffs each morning at Green Pond Landing and Event Center on Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C. The Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in Greenville’s 250,000-square-foot TD Convention Center drew numerous fishing fans and their families as well. A new event this year, the Fan Appreciation Day, enabled fans to mingle with the professional anglers for two hours Thursday afternoon.
Neil Paul, executive director of Visit Anderson, noted that the attendance reports did not include nearly 500 people who turned out at Green Pond Landing in the afternoons just to watch the anglers load their bass boats and begin driving toward the weigh-ins in Greenville.
“Our Anderson County Team worked tirelessly to provide the most complete experience to B.A.S.S. and the thousands of people who came out each day to cheer on their favorite anglers,” Paul said. “And once again, Green Pond Landing proved to be an invaluable resource on Lake Hartwell, a Top 100 Bass Lake in America. After three Bassmaster Classics since 2008, the bar has been set. We are honored to have been a part of the greatest Bassmaster Classic in history.”
“We are very appreciative of all the fans who came to Greenville and Anderson to help us celebrate 50 years of B.A.S.S.,” said Eric Lopez, director of Event Operations at B.A.S.S. “It wasn’t long ago that we were hoping to reach the 100,000 milestone for the Classic, and now we are consistently surpassing that mark.”
The previous Classic on Lake Hartwell, in 2015, drew an attendance of 103,091, Lopez noted. Classics in Tulsa, Okla., in 2013 and 2016 drew 106,850 and 107,605, respectively.
This year, in addition to 1,400 participating in Fan Appreciation Day on Thursday, officials recorded attendance figures of 33,207 on Friday, 58,620 on Saturday and 50,096 on Sunday.
Official audience measurements for the Classic LIVE video coverage streamed live on Bassmaster.com, ESPN3 and the ESPN app will not be available until later this week, but Jim Sexton, vice president/digital for B.A.S.S., said web traffic on Bassmaster.com indicates a record number of fans tuned in for live coverage of the bass fishing world championship.
2018 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO
2018 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods
2018 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2018 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Huk,
2018 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods
2018 Bassmaster Classic Local Sponsor: Mountain Dew
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.