The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce together with the Stark Cultural Venues are proud to announced the return of Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at a press conference on July 17 at the chamber’s office. The first tournament was held March 2013.

The tournament will be held March 19-22, 2015 at the Orange Public Boat Ramps off of Simmons Drive.

RECORD PHOTO: Courtesy Photos

This is a tale about the one that didn’t get away. The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce together with the Stark Cultural Venues are proud to announced the return of Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at a press conference on July 17 at the chamber’s office. The first tournament was held March 2013.

The tournament will be held March 19-22, 2015 at the Orange Public Boat Ramps off of Simmons Drive. There are eight elite tournaments during the year, said organizer John Gouthia. Todd Faircloth won the last tournament in Orange with 49.6 total pounds. He also won $100,000 in prized money.

The tournament will be aired again on ESPN and The Outdoors Channel.

“We’re glad to have the Stark Culture Venues with us again,” Gouthia said.

Ida Schossow, president of GOACC, said there were 1,142 motel rooms booked for last time.

“They’ll be here the Sunday before that (the tournament). All of hotels were all full. It was great for the community. BASS usually doesn’t come back to back.”

There will be additional events this year including music concerts for Thursday night as well as for Friday night. There will also be a possible 5K run, a fish tank, sponsored by Gopher Industrial, for kids to catch fish all four days of the tournament, a carnival, food vendors, a shuttle bus and a fireworks show by Pyrotecnico of Louisiana.

“There will be a full week of activities and more entertainment at night. It will be a staycation during Spring Break,” she said.

Schossow said she’s already receiving calls and e-mails from those interested in the tournament. The last tournament in Orange drew a then record crowd for a Bassmaster Elite event with 33,650 people in attendance. Orange still holds the record for one-day attendance with 15,700. There were over 100 volunteers helping with the event. Both Schossow and Gouthia said they thought 10,000 would show up for the tournament in 2013. Never had they dreamed it would be nearly 34,000.

“We really didn’t know what to expect that first year. They have a huge fan base and following,” Schossow said. “We began working on this one the day after the 2013 one.”

One plus is that organizers won’t have to put everything together from scratch. In fact, a GOACC delegation traveled to the Bassmaster headquarters in Alabama to organize the event.

“They (the anglers) told us ‘Everyone has been so nice to us.’ And that was about the general public, not people at the tournament. They said they’ve never have been treated so well,” she said. “There was a sense of excitement and community pride.”

They also said the Orange Texas Public Boat Ramp was a top-notch facility to host a major BASS tournament. The first tournament cost $93,000 to put on. Organizers thought the event would return $1.3 million. Instead it brought in $2.4 million direct. Some of the proceeds enabled GOACC to fund the Shop Local campaign. Last time, $60,000 was asked for from the county and the city of Orange in Hotel Occupancy Tax funding This year, organizers will ask for $80,000. Forty thousand more dollars will be spent for the 2015 tournament.

“We’re really excited to get them back. They’ll really come out now. Thous who missed the first time will come this time,” Schossow said.