Knoxville, Tennessee, has been announced as the official host city for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. The tournament will be held on the Tennessee River. Knoxville will host just the third Bassmaster Classic in Tennessee history, joining Nashville in 1972, and Chattanooga in 1986.
The city of 186,000 lies on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains in the far eastern corner of Tennessee. It’s famed as the home of the University of Tennessee and the host city for the 1982 World’s Fair—a relic of which, the Sunsphere, still towers of the downtown skyline. Indeed, the Sunsphere will feature as a backdrop to the tournament, which will be held on the river racing through the heart of the city, rather than nearby reservoirs like Lake Chickamauga or Lake Cherokee.
B.A.S.S. says the fishery is more than ready for a world-class fishing tournament.
“Knoxville meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for the Bassmaster Classic — great fishing on the Tennessee River, first-class facilities to accommodate crowds of fishing fans, a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, and a corps of state and local tourism professionals who will ensure its success,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.
“Bass fishing is hugely popular in this part of the country,” he added. “In fact, 10 of our 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are from the Volunteer State, and most live in east Tennessee. This is going to be a very exciting Classic.”
According to B.A.S.S., tournament boundaries include the twin-reservoirs of Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes—both of which have been stocked with Florida-strain largemouth since 2015.
“I had heard a lot of ideas floating around,” says Paul Underwood, a sales associate at Fort Loudon-based retailer C&C Outdoors. “I heard Douglas, Cherokee and Loudon, and I’m really excited it will be right here in front of us.”
Underwood says the fishery has been positively effected by a resurgence in cleaner water in the last few years, and the return of milfoil which is offering prime habitat for the Florida-strain bass. And, he says the weigh-in should be a hit.
Knox County mayoral county candidate Glenn Jacobs, widely known as the WWE’s Kane, says the estimated $22 million impact of the Classic will be a major boost for Knoxville’s tourism industry. “It goes a long way,” he told FTR. “It really helps our hospitality and tourism industry, which is something that we’ve talked a lot about in my campaign. We want to make Knoxville a destination for folks, and the Bassmaster Classic will certainly help fill hotels, restaurants, and even some retail stores.”
On the other side of the Volunteer State, Memphis-based lure manufacturer Strike King says its excited about the Superbowl of bass fishing visiting its home turf.
“To bring the Classic to the state of Tennessee is a huge win,” said Strike King and Lew’s Marketing Manager Mark Copley. Strike King is the premier tackle manufacturer from the Volunteer state, and was founded on the state’s western end, in Memphis, in 1972.
“With Strike King being a Tennessee company, it’s even more special from our side of things. And even though Lew’s is in Springfield, Missouri, we’re one big family now and our team over there is excited about the location as well.”