Minute Maid Park in Houston will go down in history as among the most unique of them all, in terms of weigh-in venues for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
Classic history is being made as the show unfolds inside the home field of the Houston Astros. Never before has a tournament weigh-in happened inside an ultra-modern Major League Baseball venue. It has, however been held inside other professional sports venues.
Here’s a list and profiles of unique Classic venues over the years.
That pro sports venue is Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. In Chicago, Woo Daves won the Classic held in 2000 on Lake Michigan. The weigh-in stage was constructed on the 50-yard line. Some of the fan seating was located on the field of the storied National Football League venue. In another ironic twist, Daves won the tournament along a seawall in the shadow of what was then known as the Sears Tower, 108 stories and all.
This NFL venue hosted the Classic in multiple years (1999, 2001, 2003, 2011). The venue is home to the New Orleans Saints and hosts the Sugar Bowl. Opening in 1975, the Superdome has a historic past with other sporting classics. The College Football Championship Game, Final Four and the Super Bowl have been held inside the unique dome. Kevin VanDam won two of his four Classic titles inside the Superdome, and outside on the Mississippi River.
The Classic moved outside its comfort zone at this venue in downtown Richmond, Va. Before 1988 the Classic was held mostly in the South. The growth of the Classic inspired B.A.S.S. to try holding the venue in a more northerly location. The plan worked. For three consecutive years (1988, 1989, 1990) fans filled to capacity the 13,500-seat venue. In fact, lines formed outside the coliseum early each morning, not long after the pros were launched at daybreak on the James River.
Montgomery Civic Center
Here is where it all began. The first indoor weigh-in was touted as a “sit down and watch it as it happens spectator event.” Fans sat on folding chairs lined up on the weigh-in floor and elsewhere filled the theater style seating inside the venue. The Classic was held on the Alabama River in the first hometown of B.A.S.S. in 1981 and 1982.
Montgomery Civic Center South Hall
More history happened here in 1981-82. The Classic Fishing Tackle & Boat Show featured over 20,000 square feet of state-of-the-art gear. That show transformed into what today is known as the Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. In Houston the expo is inside the George R. Brown Convention Center and will be the largest in Classic history, at 300,000-square-feet of exhibit space.