Alabama City Hopes To Leverage Boating Access And New Tournament Facilities For Economic Boon

Participation in angling has hit new highs, and officials in Demopolis, Ala., and the State of Alabama are hoping to leverage the newly opened Demopolis City Landing to host larger fishing tournaments and boost the local economy.

“Recreational fishing, and especially tournament fishing, has a huge positive impact on many communities in Alabama,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “Building first-class boat ramps with enough launch lanes and parking to host regional and national-size fishing tournaments helps these rural areas capitalize on (their) natural resources and provide economic growth.”

The updated facility features new boat launches, parking and docks as well as a new weigh-in pavilion built in partnership with Alabama Power and B.A.S.S. — the third pavilion the companies have partnered to build around the state.

“The partnerships with B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power to build weigh-in pavilions just adds to the ability to attract tournaments of all sizes,” said Blankenship. “ADCNR is proud to partner with local governments and other organizations to do good work that will pay dividends for decades and help improve the quality of life in Alabama.”

Previously built tournament pavilions at Alabama’s scenic Lewis Smith Lake, which opened in 2020, and Lay Lake, which was completed in 2014, have hosted high-level tournaments including Bassmaster Opens, College and High School events attracting thousands of anglers to the region and generating millions of dollars for host communities. Lay Lake will also host a 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series event.

According to a study by Auburn University, bass tournament anglers spent, on average, nearly $500 per day on fees, bait, fuel, lodging and food. The 2022 Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors at Lake Hartwell drew anglers, spectators and event sponsors from 39 states, accounted for more than 6,100 room nights and had a total economic impact of $1.5 million in host community Anderson, S.C.

The new Demopolis City Landing project represents a $3 million investment made possible by a partnership between the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the City of Demopolis and Marengo County. The upgraded facility not only features two new pavilions, but it also provides a four-lane boat launch with 53 paved parking spots, green-space parking for hundreds more and 250 feet of docking space.

According to Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins, the city is already attacking much larger tournaments than they’ve previously been able to accommodate. “We’ve been able to host 80 to 90 boat tournaments. I saw today that we had one coming with 250 boats. Now, think about the impact to restaurants, all the grocery stores and gas stations. It’s amazing.”

Officials are turning their sights to bringing in larger regional and national bass fishing tournaments to the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers and are excited about the possibilities that will open up for businesses throughout the Black Belt area.

“If you affect one segment of your community, we all know that money turns over four or five times in a community,” said Collins.

“I fully expect to watch the tourism industry grow even more after the opening of this boat ramp in Demopolis,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who was on hand for the dedication of the landing. “This opening will allow more of our families from far and near to get out and experience this great state. This project is not an end but just a beginning ... Commissioner Blankenship will be developing more boating access facilities like this one, but I know Marengo County will be tough to beat.”