BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing, and representatives of the local host committee gathered at the Oklahoma Aquarium to announce that the CITGO BASS Federation Championship presented by Busch Beer will be April 19-24, 2004.
"This has been a long time in coming," said Dean Kessel, Vice President and General Manager for BASS. "Thanks to a great effort by community representatives and outstanding support from the Oklahoma BASS Federation, we have the opportunity to showcase this great state on a world stage."
The effort to bring the Federation Championship to Tulsa was spearheaded by a local organizing committee comprised of representatives from CITGO Petroleum Corp., MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Lowrance Electronics, the Oklahoma BASS Federation, the Oklahoma Aquarium, the city of Mannford, Okla., and Winnercomm Productions.
"Oklahoma has some wonderful natural resources and a strong outdoors, family- based lifestyle," said host committee chairman Sam Youngwirth. "The Federation Championship generates a tremendous amount of media exposure that will help us showcase those assets on a national stage. Tulsa and BASS have a long history together; in fact BASS's first member is a Tulsan, Don Butler."
Don Corkran, BASS Federation Director, lauded the Oklahoma BASS Federation's proactive approach in securing the tournament for Tulsa.
"We are very excited to be bringing the championship to Keystone Lake," Corkran said. "We have been discussing tournament options in Oklahoma for years and finally we are making it happen. Oklahoma has such a strong Federation and one that is very progressive in expanding the sport of bass fishing."
The competitors come from 46 state Federations, the District of Columbia, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Italy, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The championship brings the state and national champions together, along with the defending champion, in a quest for the championship title and five coveted berths to the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 1 in Charlotte, N.C.
"Qualifying for the Federation Championship shows more (effort) than some of the tournaments on the pro tour because of how difficult it is to get there," said CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Michael Iaconelli, who qualified for the 1999 Classic through the Federation. "For me, the Federation Championship was the pinnacle of going from an amateur to a pro angler."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. In 2004, BASS will introduce the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the world's best anglers. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.