CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Professional bass fishing's world championship will be decided in the Carolinas when the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer heads to Charlotte July 30-Aug. 1, 2004.
Officials from North and South Carolina and BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing, made the announcement today on Lake Wylie, which will be the official tournament waters for the catch-and-release event.
"Charlotte is thrilled to be chosen as the site for the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic," said Mike Crum, Managing Director, Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority. "The Classic is an event of national stature that compares to the largest sports or entertainment events hosted by our community.
"The effort to convince BASS and ESPN to bring the Classic to Charlotte was truly a team undertaking, involving public and private agencies from cities and counties in both North and South Carolina. We look forward to putting on a great show for BASS, its anglers, fans, and the entire nation in 2004."
Local organizers include the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, Visit Charlotte, the Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority, the Rock Hill Sports and Tourism Council and Time Warner Cable. Dean Kessel, Vice President and General Manager, BASS, spoke highly of the site and local efforts to secure the event.
"We are very excited to bring the CITGO Bassmaster Classic to the great state of North Carolina," said Kessel. "Charlotte is a very progressive city and they have been aggressive in bringing this event to their backyard.
"Charlotte is a great sports city and a perfect site to host the world's premiere bass fishing event."
The CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer pits the 52 top anglers in the world against one another in an all-out, three-day tournament to determine who among them is the best of the best. Michael Iaconelli, the 2003 champ, describes winning the Classic as a feeling unlike any other.
"As confident as I am and as sure as I was that I would do this eventually, it's a shock," Iaconelli said. "When I realized that I had won, I looked down at my mom, and I'll never forget the look on her face. What a feeling."
Daily weigh-ins will take place in the Charlotte Coliseum. The Classic Outdoors Show, a giant product and activities festival that attracted nearly 53,000 visitors in 2003, will take place at the Charlotte Convention Center.
This is the first BASS event on Lake Wylie since a Bassmaster Open tournament in 1982, but the lake, which straddles the North Carolina/South Carolina border, is not a complete mystery to BASS pros.
"I am very excited to have the Classic so close to home," said South Carolina native and 1999 Classic champion Davy Hite, "We've had it before in Greensboro and it was great. Charlotte is an awesome city and Lake Wylie is a great lake. I'm sure there will be lots of fish caught."
This is the fifth time the state of North Carolina has hosted the world championship of bass fishing. Its previous Classics took place on High Rock Lake (1998, 1995, 1994) and Currituck Sound (1975).
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.