The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau is bringing a national fishing tournament to the area, with the promise of generating $5.5 million in local impact.
While the event asks for $71,000 from the CVB to support it, CVB Interim Director Nancy Carpenter says it is well worth the investment.
It has been nearly a decade since the Bass Pro Shop”s Crappie Master”s All-American Tournament Trail was hosted in Columbus. And the event has a history of success.
“It was very lucrative for us, and all of the people that were coming, were, for the most part, out the area and out of the state,” Carpenter said, noting that means hotel stays, as well as spending in local shops and restaurants.
Carpenter said she follows the theory of Joe Higgins, CEO of the Columbus-Lowndes Economic Development Link, when it comes to bringing events to the area. She wants to go after the big fish.
Higgins says he can draw all the employers the area wants that create a handful of jobs with small-impact investments, Carpenter said, after first presenting the tournament to board members last month. Or, she said, the area can focus on drawing large employers, investing millions in the area. It”s similar with tourism.
“It makes more sense to put your money (in large events). You can go after 10 small projects or you can go after one that really is going to make so much greater of an economic impact,” she said, adding, “You”re talking about 200 teams that are guaranteed to come.”
During the 2009 tournament, held in Grenada, 94.5 percent of participants were from out of the area, representing 20 different states and making a $5.49 million impact on the area, including trips to the town prior to the events.
Anglers will participate in a qualifying tournament in Columbus from March 2-3, 2012. The tournament will be hosted from Sept. 25-29, 2012.
“They”ll (be here) several times throughout the year to see how the fishing is in Columbus,” Carpenter said.
Tournament organizers also will be in The Friendly City several times to shoot TV commercials and take photos for national fishing magazines.
“We think it”s a wonderful opportunity to have the anglers here in Columbus, staying in the hotels and eating every meal out,” Carpenter said. “Our waterway is wonderful, and for years we”ve known that fishing was important to our city.”
The CVB board approved funding for the event at their last regular meeting, Monday.
The tournament is guaranteeing more than 200 teams and will pay the CVB a $100 fee for each team below its target number, in the event of a shortage.