Keith Thurman collects an extension cord in front of the focal fish tank at the new Bass Pro Shops on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in East Ridge. Tenn.

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East Ridge Bass Pro Shops gets July 13 opening date

The new Bass Pro Shops Outpost store in East Ridge is slated to open July 13, general manager Jarron Ritchie said at a ceremonial fish release at the almost 85,000-square-foot store on Tuesday.

On that day, the store will host a 6 p.m. public opening with celebrities and events, and donate 50 percent of sales to conservation. The following day, July 14, the new Bass Pro store will open bright and early at 8 a.m., its first full day of business.

Ritchie broke the news to a few gathered Tuesday near the just-finished 12,000-gallon freshwater fish tank inside the store.

The timeline for a mid-July opening is slightly behind original estimates for a June opening, but Ritchie said he is thrilled to open the doors within the next two months.

Officials with Wolftever Development, the local owners and developers of the Bass Pro and surrounding retail development at Exit 1, have said heavy and ongoing rains earlier this year slowed the completion of the new store.

The shop's roughly 150 to 160 associates are currently going through training, and many started just this week, he said.

Ritchie said the East Ridge store's lobby is a Bass Pro one-of-a-kind, with a unique mantle and design.

Ritchie is a Joplin, Mo., native and has managed Bass Pro stores in Nashville and Rossford, Ohio. He is an avid bass fisherman himself, and explained how the ceremonial first fish at the East Ridge store's aquarium came from the waters of nearby Chickamauga Lake.

The first fish was released into the tank by East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert.

And the fish was a fighter. Lambert's first attempt to nab the largemouth resulted in his being splashed.

"As soon as I reached my hand in the cooler, he splashed and absolutely soaked me," Lambert said.

While Bass Pro prepares to open the anchor store for a new East Ridge shopping complex near Camp Jordan, Lambert said the city has officially requested proposals for engineering for the second part of a larger Camp Jordan Parkway and Exit 1 improvement plan.

The first step, which was completed in April, called for the expansion of Camp Jordan Parkway from two to four lanes.

The second step calls for improving the interchange between Camp Jordan Parkway, Ringgold Road and Interstate 75. The improvement would eliminate the number of turns required to enter Camp Jordan Parkway for southbound travelers and funnel northbound traffic directly toward Camp Jordan Parkway.

Lambert said the city wants to "hopefully complete it in 18 months or so."

He said the total buildout of the 50-acre Jordan Crossing retail and commercial development is probably four or five years from completion. A Zaxby's is already announced for the site, although so far construction has only occurred on the Bass Pro store.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at or 423-757-6480.