Although the number of anglers who competed in the FLW bass tournament held Sept. 22 to 25 was less than last year’s inaugural tournament, the total economic impact to the state increased by about 6 percent.
At least that’s the results of a study compiled by the Payson FLW tournament steering committee.
Parts of the survey were compiled during a pre-tournament meeting of fishermen and others done during and after the tournament.
Anglers, spectators, local businesspersons and FLW officials were interviewed.
The committee survey indicates the total economic impact was $745,500 up from last year’s $599,000.
In Payson, the impact was $327,154 almost double last year’s $178,533. Tonto Basin enjoyed the biggest overall boon, $405,266, but that amount represents a drop from the 2009 mark of $420,586.
The field of anglers decreased from 296 to 194 and the number of boats dropped from 148 to 97.
Dennis Pirch, a co-chair of the FLW tournament committee along with Jim Goughnour, believes he knows the reasons behind the decline.
“It’s all about economics,” he said. “The tournament was the fourth in the (FLW) Western Series and some of the pros were already out of the running for the Forrest Wood Cup.
“Because of that, they decided not to spend the entry fee ($2,000) and traveling costs with no chance of qualifying for the cup.”
Also, Pirch added, this was a bigger tournament than 2009 with more prize money, so entry fees were higher than last year.
Keith Espe of New River pocketed the top prize money of $50,000.
The survey also indicated the FLW Fun Day, held at Green Valley Park about a week before the tournament, was enjoyed by about 4,000 persons, and that a crowd of 1,000 attended the final day weigh-in held at Chapman Auto Center.
The tournament and weigh-in was shown in high definition Sunday, Oct. 31, on the Versus “FLW Outdoors” television program hosted by Jason Harper. It included several panoramic scans of the final weigh-in crowd, many of whom were Payson residents.
It also included scenes of the weigh-ins held at Roosevelt’s Cholla boat ramp. About 300 to 400 people attended each of those.
Also, Payson professional angler Clifford Pirch, a member of the National Guard fishing team, was prominently featured in the broadcast telling watchers “I grew up on this lake.”
Versus officials estimate the program was shown to about 500 million household worldwide.
About 55 percent of the tournament fishermen were from Arizona and 45 percent from out of state. Arizona and California anglers comprised about 90 percent of the field, almost the same as last year.
The number who stayed in hotels and motels increased to about 45 percent, which was an increase of 15 percent over last year.
Camping declined 9 percent and about 29 percent of the visiting anglers stayed in private residences.
The anglers survey showed they dined out for 63 percent of their meals, a decline of 8 percent from 2009.
The recently completed survey has the FLW committee members concluding that the tournament and its events “were a huge success and each year are becoming a more significant economic contributor to local towns, the county and state.”
Goughnour says the FLW’s recent commitment to return to Roosevelt in February 2011 for another tournament is “the best indicator of a job well done” by the local committee.