Daily file photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Anglers prepare to leave Ingalls Harbor in Decatur for the second day of competition in the FLW Stren Series Championship last fall.
Tournament director calls Decatur facility best in U.S., discounts host fee
By Paul Huggins
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Ingalls Harbor is quickly proving to be a reliable fishing hook for tourism.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour has agreed to bring four more fishing tournaments to Wheeler Lake in 2008. Combined, they could have a $1.2 million impact on Decatur's economy.
Bill Taylor, FLW Tour tournament director, said he wants to increase FLW's presence here because of Ingalls' ability to host large tournaments and because of the professional treatment the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau has given FLW officials and anglers.
"Having that park and facility there is far and away better than anything in the United States when it comes to locations to do fishing events," he said. "It was a no-brainer that we needed to bring what we could when we come back to Decatur."
Four hundred anglers in 200 boats from across America christened the park and boat launch in early November during the FLW Stren Series Championship.
The four-day tournament had an economic impact of $836,000, according to the visitors bureau. And one of the four events coming in 2008 will be just as big.
The biggest of the four, occurring March 26-29, is the FLW Series, one of six tournament series with the FLW Tour. Though not a championship event as occurred in November, it will still offer a four-day schedule with 400 anglers fishing the first three days and the top 10 competing on the fourth day.
Visitors bureau President Tami Reist said the economic impact should be the same as November's Stren event, with one major added bonus.
The Stren Series event cost the bureau a $60,000 host fee. The FLW Series event will cost only $27,000.
"I wanted to give them a tremendous discount to show our appreciation for what they've done for us in the past and to develop a continued relationship," Taylor said. "I wanted to make sure we partner with them for a long, long time to come."
Even though the FLW Series tourney isn't a championship event, it will receive as much TV coverage as did the Stren Series, Taylor said. It will have a live Internet broadcast as well as a tape-delay broadcast on FSN a few times during the year.
The FLW tournament will offer $1 million in prizes, including at least $100,000 to the winner.
The other three events are part of the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League series. This is the FLW Tour's grassroots league, which has much lower entry fees and smaller payoffs.
The first BFL event will bring in 400 anglers for one day in September 2008. The second a month later will have 400 for two days.
Later that fall, BFL will bring in 320 anglers from across America for a two-day regional championship.
Ingalls also will be the site for two BFL events this spring, April 28 and May 12.
As for non-FLW events, ESPN will be back in town Oct. 18-20 to film the Bassmaster Open, featuring 325 anglers. The next weekend brings a two-day tournament organized by The Bass Federation. This event has normally charged host fees of up to $30,000, but the visitors bureau secured it this time free of charge.
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