Bassmaster Classic generates more than $35 million for Knoxville

The 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota has not only been credited with shattering attendance and viewership records, but now the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing has proven itself as one of the best investments in sports.

According to numbers released by Visit Knoxville, the Bassmaster Classic generated an economic windfall of more than $35.5 million for the community, which welcomed a staggering crowd of 163,914 fans to Classic Week activities.

“Knoxville as a destination is the perfect fit for events like the Bassmaster Classic,” said Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville. “From natural resources like the Tennessee River and surrounding lakes to the multiple venues hosting various events throughout the weekend, fans from all over the world enjoy an experience like no other here in Knoxville.”

Fans traveling from across the nation and as far away as Australia and Japan not only packed Thompson-Boling Arena for weigh-ins and the Knoxville Convention Center and World’s Fair Exhibition Hall — which hosted the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by the U.S. Army — but those same visitors accounted for 31,525 room nights at hotels across Knox County.

“We’ve had an excellent relationship with B.A.S.S. since hosting the Elite Series in 2017 (at Cherokee Lake),” said Chad Culver, Sr., director of the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission and Convention Sales. “Our partnership successfully continues with hosting the Bassmaster Classic in 2019, another Elite Series (event) in 2021 and the Classic once again this year in 2023 — the highest attended Classic to date.”

When the Classic was first hosted in Knoxville just four years ago, the event created an economic impact of $32.2 million. That tournament earned recognition as a 2019 Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism (Mid-Market Division) by Sports Destination Management.

In addition to producing more than $2.85 million in state and local tax revenue, including taxes on sales, restaurant purchases and lodging, the 2023 Bassmaster Classic and associated activities supported a total of 12,698 jobs, according to a report from the local host.

“I grew up fishing the Tennessee River and was excited at the opportunity to spotlight Knoxville, the Tennessee River and the passionate fishing community found in east Tennessee,” said Chase Anderson, CEO of B.A.S.S. “We were thrilled at the enormous reception from people across the region had to the Bassmaster Classic, allowing us to break all previous attendance records. I can’t thank our partners at Visit Knoxville and the entire community enough.

“It has been proven time and time again that fishing and the outdoor industry strengthen local economies. It’s our hope that through media coverage of our exciting tournaments and by attracting our signature large, passionate crowds, every Bassmaster tournament can be an economic win for our host cities.”

The Bassmaster Classic heads west to Oklahoma for 2024. For the first time since 2016, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota will be held in Tulsa March 22-24.