Birmingham, Lay Lake to host 2007 Bassmaster Classic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Birmingham, which was voted as America's bass capital by Bassmaster magazine readers, will host the Bassmaster Classic on Feb. 23-25, 2007.

Anglers will fish on the 12,000-acre Lay Lake, site of both the 1996 and 2002 Bassmaster Classics. The 48-mile-long fishery, which was impounded in 1914, gave up a winning three-day tournament weight of 45 pounds, 13 ounces (Jay Yelas) in the 2002 Classic and 31 pounds, 14 ounces (George Cochran) in 1996. Anglers will weigh in at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.

"2007 is shaping up to be an incredible year as Alabama continues its tradition of leadership in the outdoors," said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. "We're excited to partner with ESPN and BASS to host the biggest tournament in bass fishing and all of the events leading up to it."

Fans who can't make it to Birmingham to catch bass fishing's most major event will be able to see it on ESPN2. The network is devoting nearly 12 hours of programming to the Bassmaster Classic, including live, morning weekend shows and same-day coverage of the entire tournament.

The Bassmaster Classic's field of 50 anglers will compete for a total prize purse of nearly $1.2 million, including a top prize of $500,000. Anglers have the opportunity to practice on Feb. 13-15, before the waters go off limits. There is a final practice day scheduled for Feb. 21. While all anglers will fish on Days 1 and 2, only the top 25 will fish on the final day.

The Bassmaster Classic builds on ESPN's strong commitment to Birmingham, which also includes two recently announced prominent college events. The Birmingham Bowl, a newly created college football bowl game at Legion Field on Dec. 23, will be televised by ESPN2 at 12 p.m. ET. The annual game will match a team from Conference USA against a bowl-eligible team from the BIG EAST Conference. There's also the Ford MEAC/SWAC Challenge, an ESPN Regional Television owned-and-operated annual college football game televised on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 2 from Legion Field.

BASS is bringing back a fan-favorite of Classic week, the highly popular Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo. It will be open Friday through Sunday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center, site of the weigh-in.

An exciting new element to Classic week will be the debut of the first BASS women's championship. The top 12 anglers and co-anglers to emerge from the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats season will fish a four-day championship on nearby Lake Mitchell on Feb. 22-25.

Events leading up to the Bassmaster Classic include the Junior Bassmaster World Championship (Feb. 18, Logan Martin Lake); the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series presented by Advance Auto Parts Championship (Jan. 25-27, Lake Guntersville); and Federation Nation National Championship (Jan. 17-19, Neely Henry Lake).

Anyone interest in volunteering at the Bassmaster Classic should call BASS at 1-877-BASS-USA.

Sponsor of the Bassmaster Classic include Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.