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Sports

Area's bid for Bassmasters Classic to be submitted

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003

Officials in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania are about to officially put themselves in the running to host the 2005 Bassmasters Classic fishing tournament.

Before the end of the week -- just in time to beat a Nov. 1 deadline -- the Pittsburgh Classic Committee will submit its bid to host the tournament, considered the world's premier bass fishing event. It would be held on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

The Classic is run by the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society. Its parent company, ESPN, televises the tournament live.

The Pittsburgh committee -- composed of bass fishermen, local and state tourism officials, foundation representatives and others -- has been working for months to put together a bid for the 2005 Classic.

Denny Tubbs, a committee member and aquatic resources program specialist in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Somerset office, would not say how much the bid is worth.

It is believed, though, that any bid must include a payment of about $500,000 to $750,000 to ESPN.

At least two or three other cities are competing for the 2005 Classic, Tubbs said. But he believes the Pittsburgh committee's offer -- which would use public and private funds -- will be competitive.

"Our proposal looks really good, really good," Tubbs said. "There seems to be a lot of interest on the part of ESPN to come to Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, too."

The committee's proposal pitches the idea that a Classic in Pittsburgh would be a "thinking man's" tournament, Tubbs said. That's because the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio are all different.

The Monongahela has lots of bass, but few are exceptionally large, Tubbs said. The Ohio has fewer fish, but bigger ones, including some in the eight- to nine-pound range. The Allegheny is somewhere in the middle.

Because of the time it takes to get through the locks on each, anglers would have to decide which river to fish, then commit to it.

"They won't be able to run 50 miles from spot to spot like they do on some of these lakes," Tubbs said.

Being awarded the Classic would likely bring about $25 million into southwestern Pennsylvania, Tubbs said. It would also showcase the quality fishing to be found here.

"We're not the industrial area we once were, with all of the bad waters, polluted waters. We have a lot of fish, and not even a lot of people inside the city realize that," Tubbs said.

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