DAYTON, Tenn. -- Passers-by may see boat trailers at the Dayton boat dock this weekend, but organizers of the Bass Anglers Invitational Trail Classic tournament see economic impact.
Dennis Tumlin, part of the two-member committee appointed by the Dayton City Council earlier this year to recruit fishing tournaments, said the area can benefit significantly from such events.
"There are not a lot of jobs being added; manufacturing and industry are not growth vehicles right now," Tumlin said. "Anything that can provide a stimulus to local stores, motels, groceries, will be good. We've found a way to bring 300 anglers and maybe another 100 support staff into town for about a week. Statistics show they will spend about $400,000 while they're here."
Dayton City Councilman Gary Louallen, who is working with Tumlin in the recruiting effort, said this week's classic is expected to draw 150 boats for the championship.
"They will be buying gas -- 30 to 50 gallons per day [per boat]," he said, "and eating out for breakfast and dinner. Everybody benefits."
In an effort to make Dayton more attractive for tournaments, not to mention local anglers, the City Council earlier this year razed the shop at the boat dock off Highway 30 and erected a building shell to house a bait shop and restaurant. The council entered into an agreement with Michael Neal to complete the interior of the building and operate the business.
"The improvements we've made are not just for tournaments," Louallen said. "Once we get the boat slips fixed up we'll have more facilities for local people." He said he expects to see one-day tournaments throughout the week catering primarily to local fishermen and to have local anglers patronizing the store for supplies.
Louallen pointed out that lease payments will reimburse the city for its outlay for the building. And tournaments like the one this week have the added benefit of stocking the waters near town.
"In these tournaments anglers will fish from Chattanooga to Watts Bar Dam," he said. "They'll bring the fish here and turn them loose. It's like stocking the waters for our people."
Tumlin pointed out that, in addition to providing a boost to the local economy, local businesses and organizations are providing support, ranging from the Dayton Church of God providing space for the tournament's opening dinner to the Heartland Grill providing food items at cost.
Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.