NEW ORLEANS, La. — BASS officials joined with Louisiana Lt. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to announce that New Orleans will be the host city for the CITGO Bassmasters Classic presented by Busch Beer, July 28 through Aug. 3.
"This is another excellent opportunity to showcase the wonderful natural resources that our state has to offer," said Lt. Gov. Blanco. "The previous two Classics here in New Orleans have been very successful and we are pleased to have BASS back in Louisiana once again, particularly during the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase."
This will mark the third time that the Big Easy has hosted fishing's biggest week. New Orleans was the site of the Classic in 1999 and 2001.
"We are extremely excited to be returning to New Orleans," said Dean Kessel, general manager of BASS "The Louisiana Delta offers one of the nation's premier fisheries, and the city of New Orleans definitely offers our loyal members and fans plenty of opportunities for great food and entertainment to make their visit most memorable."
In addition to the on-the-water action, where 62 of the world's top anglers will be competing for the $200,000 top prize, the city will also host the Classic Outdoor Show. The Classic Outdoor Show, which will be held at the Superdome, is one of the largest consumer shows in the outdoor industry. It offers visitors one of the first opportunities to purchase new products from various companies in the fishing and marine industries, as well as other outdoor-related products.
Anglers will fish on the expansive Louisiana Delta for the three days of competition, with the daily weigh-ins taking place at the Louisiana Superdome. The waters will go off-limits to any potential Classic qualifier on Jan. 1, 2003 and remain off-limits until the official Classic practice period.
Excitement surrounding the event is extremely high, as evidenced by the increased television ratings from the recently concluded 2002 event in Birmingham, Ala. The audience on ESPN and ESPN2 of the 2002 CITGO Bassmasters Classic was 32 percent larger than the coverage from 2001.
Competition days for the 33rd CITGO Bassmasters Classic presented by Busch Beer will be August 1-3, which means that for the first time ever, the storied tournament will end on a Sunday.
"We believe crowning the champion on Sunday will allow even more fans the opportunity to attend the event and the Classic Outdoor show," added Kessel.
Davy Hite claimed victory in BASS' first trip to the Louisiana Delta, setting a Classic record for the most bass weighed in with 55 pounds 10 ounces.
"I'm obviously excited the Classic is returning to New Orleans," said Hite, who has already qualified for next summer's Classic as a result of winning the 2002 Busch BASS Angler of the Year award. "This is an excellent fishery; I can't wait for the competition to start."
The CITGO Bassmasters Classic is the crowning event of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, with qualifiers advancing from the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer, CITGO Bassmaster Opens and the BASS Federation. The Classic offers a total payout of $700,000, with the winner claiming $200,000. However, past champions have earned residual income in excess of $1 million through endorsements and other opportunities.
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation, BASS is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship as it has since its creation in 1968. BASS is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmasters Classic presented by Busch Beer include: CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, and BASS Platinum Visa/First USA.
Associate Sponsors include Bass Cat Boats and G3 Boats.