Daily Limit: Classic countdown go!

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Angie Thompson
Jerry McKinnis addresses B.A.S.S. workers at company headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.

The countdown to the Classic has begun in earnest. Wednesday marked 100 days until the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic gets under way, and the wheels at B.A.S.S. are turning.

Although the March 24-26 championship is a good ways out, I’ve already been in two meetings for it. The first was with the digital team to plan web site content. (Hey, here’s story No. 1). The second was a company-wide teleconference between Birmingham and Little Rock, because pretty much everybody at B.A.S.S. works the Classic -- only about four don’t go.

In the latter con-fab, the message was to pull up your boot straps and get moving to make it the biggest ever. That’s to be expected because everybody knows everything’s bigger in Texas. Right?

Well, B.A.S.S. wants its best-attended Classic, and we hope to roll out the red carpet to accomplish that. But big numbers aren’t co-owner Jerry McKinnis’ only hope, nor his main objective.

“I don’t give a hoot about the records,” he said (although he’d love to see it), “it’s what it will do for the sport.”

Yes, big effects. McKinnis has long worked to raise bass fishing to the heights that it deserves among modern sports. He said holding Bassmaster’s marquee event in America’s fourth-largest city offers great opportunity on that front, so he’s asked all the employees to go the extra mile to help make this Classic the biggest and the best. Known as “The Hammer,” he actually hammered the point.

Eric Lopez, the director of events/operations, hosted the teleconference and said the venues in Houston give B.A.S.S. a great canvas. He provided details on Houston’s Minute Maid Park, where the weigh-ins will be held, and the Classic Outdoor Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the huge convention center next door.

Fans should appreciate that the Expo and weigh-ins are but a short walk apart, that there is parking closeby as well as public transportion, including park and ride availability.  

At Minute Maid, which seats 40,963 for Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, the Classic stage will be set up near third base. Lopez said there are 16,000 to 18,000 seats that offer great views from the third base side stands.

Across the street, Halls A, B and C at the George R. Brown Convention Center gives the Expo its largest footprint ever at 325,850 square feet. This is the 10th largest convention complex in the United States.

Lopez spoke on the enormity and quality of the venues, the rabid bass fans in the region and the great potential for record crowds. A powerpoint presentation showed last year’s takeoffs, expo and weigh-ins in Tulsa were attended by 107,650 fans, second only to 137,700 patrons in 2009 at Shreveport. Houston could easily surpass that with plenty of elbow room for more.

Lopez also touched upon the fishing on Lake Conroe, about 50 miles due north of downtown in Montgomery. Fifty-two anglers will take off each morning from Lake Conroe Park. That facility is huge, and tournament director Trip Weldon later spoke and said he expects record crowds for the 7:20 a.m. CT takeoffs.

The Daily Limit will do its part to try to help draw fans to Houston for the 47th Classic. Having lived there way back when, I hope to offer up some local flavor while informing readers about anything and everything you’d like to know about the event. Go ahead and ask questions below, I promise I’ll check and try to answer.

BASSMASTER’S ‘BREAKING BAD’ CONNECTION

AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” now has an Elite Series connection. Tyler Carriere, of Youngsville, La., accepted his invitation after he took fourth in the Central Open point standings.

Seems Carriere’s nephew is actor R.J. Mitte, who played Walter White son’s on the highly acclaimed series. (Trivia: What did Walt Jr. want to be called for a time? Answer below)

Carriere actually might not be fishing if it weren’t for Mitte, who is providing some backing. Might we see a reference to the show somehow on the boat wrap, you know, helping the residual pay for Mitte? Doubt it, but we can still call it the Breaking Bad Boat. Read more about Carriere here.