Grand Fishing Tournament In Panama City Beach

Organizers of a new national fishing tournament scheduled for August said Monday they expect the event to attract more than a thousands competitors, 300 boats and 40,000 spectators, pumping $18 million into the local economy. Owners of four large marinas on Grand Lagoon, restaurants and businesses have formed a nonprofit foundation to run The Grand Lagoon National saltwater fishing tournament. It will include a wide range of recreational and entertainment events for participants and observers alike, co-organizer Bill Spann said at a news conference at the Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. The initial five-day tournament, which will run Aug. 20-24, will include an unprecedented six competition divisions that will make it one of the largest fishing sports events in the country, said Spann, who founded the long-successful Bay Point Billfish Invitational a quarter-century ago. “The Grand Lagoon is the epicenter of big game fishing in Florida,” Spann said. As organizers initially met to consider the proposed tournament several months ago, he said, the idea quickly spread to add new categories to make the event as “inclusive” as possible. Given the proximity of St. Andrew Bay and the area’s reputation as a sport diving center, planners were able to add inshore fishing and dive fishing to the list. “I don’t know of any other area (in Florida) that has this depth,” Spann said. “There are not a lot of places that can do this.” The fishing categories include Big Game (blue marlin, swordfish, tuna, white marlin, dolphin and wahoo); Offshore (wahoo, dolphin, red snapper, grouper, amberjack and king mackerel); Inshore (red snapper, grouper, amberjack and king mackerel); Flats (St. Andrew Bay estuary); Party Boat (gag grouper and red snapper); and Dive (snapper, grouper and amberjack). The event will feature a total prize purse of $1 million. 1 2 NEXT ->  As currently proposed, the tournament will utilize four “weigh-in” sites on Grand Lagoon, including Capt. Anderson’s Marina, Pirate’s Cove Marina, Treasure Island Marina and Boatyard Marina. These facilities have a total of 1,300 wet slips and 2,000 dining seats, guaranteeing that they can absorb an event that large, Spann said. Other hosts include Boatyard Restaurant, Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant and The Treasure Ship restaurant. In addition to weigh-in festivities, tournament plans call for a formal parade, a fireworks display, nationally prominent musical entertainment and a host of displays and food booths. Spann said a number of additional events will be announced as the planning continues. “We’re going to have a lot of surprises,” he said. Transportation between the different sites on Grand Lagoon will be provided using a fleet of chartered buses and water taxis, Spann said. Costs of the tournament will be covered by a combination of entry fees and corporate sponsorships. Entry fees range from $50 per diver to $5,000 for the first 50 boats in the Big Game tournament. Sponsorships range from $1,500 to $3,500. Spann said the foundation has no plans to seek contributions from the Bay County Tourist Development Council, although he and TDC Director Dan Rowe said the council will assist with advertising and marketing to attract a significant out-of-state awareness of the event. “We see the tournament as reinforcing the importance of fishing to this destination,” Rowe said. TDC Chairman Andy Phillips said the tournament, coming near the end of the summer, will provide “a real shot in the arm” to area tourism. The foundation plans to contribute a share of the proceeds to area charities that serve children and Gulf Coast fishing families, Spann said.

Tournament organizers are seeking participating business sponsors and individual volunteers who would like to be involve in the tournament. Those wishing to take part can contact Spann at 522-0955.

As currently proposed, the tournament will utilize four “weigh-in” sites on Grand Lagoon, including Capt. Anderson’s Marina, Pirate’s Cove Marina, Treasure Island Marina and Boatyard Marina. These facilities have a total of 1,300 wet slips and 2,000 dining seats, guaranteeing that they can absorb an event that large, Spann said. Other hosts include Boatyard Restaurant, Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant and The Treasure Ship restaurant. In addition to weigh-in festivities, tournament plans call for a formal parade, a fireworks display, nationally prominent musical entertainment and a host of displays and food booths. Spann said a number of additional events will be announced as the planning continues. “We’re going to have a lot of surprises,” he said. Transportation between the different sites on Grand Lagoon will be provided using a fleet of chartered buses and water taxis, Spann said. Costs of the tournament will be covered by a combination of entry fees and corporate sponsorships. Entry fees range from $50 per diver to $5,000 for the first 50 boats in the Big Game tournament. Sponsorships range from $1,500 to $3,500. Spann said the foundation has no plans to seek contributions from the Bay County Tourist Development Council, although he and TDC Director Dan Rowe said the council will assist with advertising and marketing to attract a significant out-of-state awareness of the event. “We see the tournament as reinforcing the importance of fishing to this destination,” Rowe said. TDC Chairman Andy Phillips said the tournament, coming near the end of the summer, will provide “a real shot in the arm” to area tourism. The foundation plans to contribute a share of the proceeds to area charities that serve children and Gulf Coast fishing families, Spann said.

Tournament organizers are seeking participating business sponsors and individual volunteers who would like to be involve in the tournament. Those wishing to take part can contact Spann at 522-0955.

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will speak at a rally on Wednesday at Gulf Coast Community College. Josie Ferraioli, public relations chairwoman of the Bay County Republican Party who is working on Giuliani’s campaign, confirmed on Monday the former New York City mayor’s appearance. Giuliani is expected to arrive at the Panama City-Bay County International Airport midday on Wednesday and hold the rally at 1 p.m. in the second floor conference area of the college’s Student Union East building, according to Ferraioli. Capacity is about 300.  

Jerry

www.bestpanamacitybeachcondo.com

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