TULSA, Okla. — When it comes to the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees has more than lived up to its name.
The 46,500-acre fishery provided some of the grandest moments in the history of the event when Classics were held there in 2013 and 2016 — and now, the picturesque reservoir located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains will add to that grand lore when it plays host to the 54th renewal of the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing March 22-24, 2024.
B.A.S.S. officials alongside hosts from the Tulsa Sports Commission and ASM Global made the announcement at a press conference in Tulsa on Tuesday morning, nearly 13 months before the event will take place.
“Planning the Bassmaster Classic, the greatest celebration of the sport of fishing, is a never-ending process,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Chase Anderson. “The B.A.S.S. team has been working with the people of Tulsa for well over a year to make this a reality.
“Now that it’s official, we couldn’t be more excited to be headed back to a city and fishery that already hold a special place in Classic history and is such an important area to the fishing community.”
As with past Classics held in Tulsa, daily weigh-ins will be held at the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa, with the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo across the street at the Cox Business Convention Center, which boasts 275,000 square feet of event space. Daily takeoffs will be held about 90 miles away at the Wolf Creek Park and Boating Facility on Grand Lake.
“The Tulsa Sports Commission, and Tulsa Regional Tourism as a whole, are beyond excited to welcome the Bassmaster Classic back to Tulsa in 2024 after successful 2013 and 2016 events,” said Renee McKenney, vice president of tourism, Tulsa Regional Chamber and president, Tulsa Regional Tourism. “Tulsa has experienced profound growth since 2016 — welcoming new attractions like the Gathering Place, Discovery Lab, Mother Road Market, Greenwood Rising Black Wall St. History Center and the Bob Dylan Center to name just a few. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase how Tulsa is not only a thriving, vibrant city, but one with convenient access to world-class outdoor splendor.”
Previous Bassmaster Classics drew phenomenal crowds lakeside and to packed venues around the “Capital of Route 66,” and more than 105,000 enthusiastic fans are expected for Classic Week festivities.
“When you saw 3,000 fans standing out in the freezing-cold weather every morning to watch the competitors launch their boats, that pretty much told you everything you needed to know,” said Eric Lopez, director of operations for B.A.S.S. “The people in that area love B.A.S.S. and bass fishing — and for those traveling in from out of town, the area has a fabulous selection of restaurants and hotels to choose from.
“It really is a great place for an event like the Classic, and that’s before you even start discussing the quality of the fishing, which is fantastic.”
During the first Tulsa Classic in 2013, former Elite Series pro Cliff Pace of Mississippi claimed a wire-to-wire victory despite sharing the first-day lead with current Elite Series star Mike Iaconelli during a frigid event when icy precipitation and blistering cold tested the toughness of the 53-angler field. Pace’s closest competition in that Classic came from reigning Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, who finished second by 7 pounds.
That fishing prowess was on display again in 2016 when local favorite Jason Christie led Days 1 and 2 and seemed poised to earn his first Classic trophy until fellow Oklahoma pro Edwin Evers caught a five-bass limit that weighed 29 pounds, 3 ounces to claim a dramatic come-from-behind win.
Christie, who finally earned a Classic victory last year on Lake Hartwell, still calls it one of the most crushing moments of his career.
“When you have a chance to win the biggest title in bass fishing right there at home — that just doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “In a way, I just got beat because Edwin went out and caught that huge bag. But I also only came in with four fish that final day.
“I didn’t do all I could have done to win it — and I love the idea of having another shot at it on that particular fishery.”
“The Grand River Dam Authority is excited to see the Bassmaster Classic make its return to Grand Lake in 2024,” said GRDA President and CEO Dan Sullivan. “Not only will the event provide a tremendous economic benefit to the region but it will once again showcase Grand Lake to interested audiences across the country.
“GRDA places a high priority on caring for the natural resources under its control, and being a three-time host of the Bassmaster Classic reinforces Grand’s reputation as one of the nation’s top fisheries. GRDA is excited to once again support the Bassmaster Classic, which is known as a premier event and competition for anglers.”
On last year’s list of 100 Best Bass Lakes by Bassmaster Magazine, Grand Lake ranked 17th in the Central Division. That marks the 11th straight year — every year the list has been published — that the fishery has ranked in the Top 100.
The field will include 56 anglers who will qualify through the Bassmaster Elite Series, the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens, the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, the Strike King College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship. They will all be vying for a $300,000 first-place prize and a total purse of over $1 million.
“Since its inception, the Classic has been a tournament that changes lives,” said B.A.S.S. Vice President of Tournaments Chris Bowes. “The payday is great, sure. But the opportunity to refer to yourself as ‘Bassmaster Classic champion’ for the rest of your life — there’s no greater clout in our sport.”
About ASM Global
ASM Global is the world’s leading producer of entertainment experiences. It is the global leader in venue and event strategy and management—delivering locally tailored solutions and cutting-edge technologies to achieve maximum results for venue owners. The company’s elite venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 325 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centers and performing arts venues. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Asmglobal.com
About the Tulsa Sports Commission
In 1993, the Tulsa Sports Commission (TSC) was created to attract and develop sporting events and conventions for economic impact on the Tulsa community. Since its inception, the TSC has accounted for more than $500 million in economic impact to the Tulsa region by helping attract, market and host championships and sports-related events and conventions to the region. The TSC is a founding member of the National Association of Sports Commissions and lives within the Tulsa Regional Tourism umbrella organization. Learn more at visittulsa.com/sports.
About Tulsa Regional Tourism
Tulsa Regional Tourism is northeast Oklahoma’s premier accredited destination marketing organization. Housed at the Tulsa Regional Chamber, it includes Visit Tulsa for leisure travel, Tulsa Convention & Visitors Bureau for meetings & conventions, Tulsa Sports Commission for amateur & pro sports and the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture (FMAC) for creative industries and accredited film commission. Tulsa Regional Tourism leads the community’s bidding for and hosting of signature events like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Big 12 Wrestling Championship, USA BMX Grand Nationals, the Arabian Horse Association’s U.S. Nationals and more. For more information, visit visittulsa.com.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.