The national spotlight is on La Crosse this weekend as nearly 100 of the world's best anglers take to the water for the Mississippi River Rumble.
Last year was the first time La Crosse hosted the tournament. This year, organizers are hoping for a bigger turnout and an even bigger boost to the local economy.
The tournament's senior manager, Chris Bowes, said beneath the water's surface lies some of the best opportunities for fishing.
“It's a diverse fishery,” said Bowes. “You're going to see anglers fishing, of course, in a lot of the backwater, [there is] heavy vegetation. “We know some of the anglers are more out on the fishing some of the man-made rock structures and things of that nature.”
The anglers will be bringing in more than just fish.
“I think all of us combined are really excited about the event and the people that it draws and the fun it brings,” said Dave Clements, of the La Crosse Visitors and Conventions Bureau.
In 2012, the event reeled in more 15,000 spectators and $950,000 for the local economy.
“If with the numbers and everything that happens, [I hope] that we break that $1 million mark,” said Clements. “All of that money gets filtered out to many of the different businesses in the community, and it really does help support lots of different businesses and make their bottom line profitable and help keep them in business.”
He also said the national publicity the area will receive is invaluable.
“We get two shows on ESPN and two shows on the Outdoor Channel,” said Clements. “We get four one-hour TV shows that are highlighting the area, and the beauty of the area talking about La Crosse, and that is marketing that you can't put a price on. The value of that is so huge.”
Clements said the publicity the tournament brings in helps put La Crosse on the national map as the place to be.
“It builds our brand and it builds the name La Crosse, and it just continues to send out this great message that La Crosse is a great place to live, work and play,” said Clements.
Anglers and spectators will be able to take advantage of some of the new features down at the boat landing.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department used the more than $50,000 collected in boat landing fees last year to add new docks and bumpers.
They said the improvements help La Crosse make a good impression to a national audience.
“That's what attracts events like this, and that's what also really showcases the area for outside visitors to come and say, ‘Hey, look at La Crosse, look at these landings,’” said Jay Odegaard, director of the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department.
“These are something we're very proud of, and we want people to come and enjoy them," said Odegaard.
The West Copeland boat launch will be closed to the public Thursday through Sunday for the tournament.
La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat also proclaimed today as Bassmaster Elite Series Day.