BASS announced today it has revamped the 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series, decreasing entry fees per angler by $25,200 for the season and introducing a two-event, no-entry-fee postseason. The postseason places an increased focus on one of the most prestigious awards in the sport, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Despite the reduced entry fees, the top finisher in the AOY race will take home $250,000 and the total payout will remain at more than $1 million.
The postseason events will feature only the Top 12 anglers in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, determined after the regular season. Each postseason event will receive one hour of ESPN2 television coverage and the entire Elite Series will receive 15 hours of original programming on ESPN2 in 2009. Anglers who reach the postseason will be provided with unmatched brand-building opportunities.
The qualifiers will start the postseason with the AOY points that correspond with their standings among the Top 12, based on the regular season. The top qualifier heading into the postseason will begin with 300 points, and the rest of the field will receive points that correspond with the AOY points structure. The postseason will be scored with the traditional AOY points system.
The postseason events will follow the culmination of the regular season, which ends with the Champion’s Choice on Lake Oneida out of Syracuse, N.Y. That final regular-season event has been moved to July 30-Aug. 2. Dates and locations for the postseason events will be announced at a later date.
With the announcement of the postseason, BASS has reduced its previously announced Elite Series regular-season schedule to eight events. The three events eliminated are the Alabama Charge (May 14-17; Pickwick Lake; Florence, Ala.), Cold Water Clash (July 23-26; Big Bay de Noc/Little Bay de Noc; Escanaba, Mich.) and the Empire Chase (Aug. 6-9; Lake Champlain; Plattsburgh, N.Y.). Click here to view the revised 2009 Elite Series regular-season schedule. The amended payouts for the Elite Series regular season can be found at Bassmaster.com .or by clicking here. The 2010 Elite schedule will remain as previously announced.
“We have had a number of productive discussions with Elite anglers and various stakeholders and determined that much like everyone else in this challenging economy, our sport and anglers have been impacted,” said Tom Ricks, vice president and general manager, BASS and ESPN Outdoors. “We feel this decision is in the best interest of the industry, our anglers and sponsors.”
The entire roster for the 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series will be released in the coming weeks and Kevin VanDam, 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, was in support of the format change.
“For the long-term health of the sport, this is a reasonable move,” said VanDam. “Looking at the entire Elite Series field, this announcement is helpful and appropriate and it serves the industry, anglers and sponsors well in a challenging environment.”
“Bass fishing is not immune to this economic climate,” said Tim Horton, Elite Series pro. “I’ve spoken with a lot of anglers and feel that this is the right move for the industry.”
The Elite Series regular-season tournament format will follow the 2008 model, with the top 50 anglers qualifying for the third day of competition and the top 12 competing on the final day.
BASS will operate the Bassmaster Opens, the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, the BASS Federation Nation presented by Yamaha Outboards and Skeeter Boats and all other tournament programs in the same manner as previously announced.
In other news, the Bassmaster Elite Series Marshal Program has resonated tremendously with BASS members. To date, the available slots for Marshals are more than 75% filled for the eight Elite events. With limited space available, BASS members are encouraged to call 1-877-BASS-USA to reserve a spot.
Marshals who were registered for any Elite events that have been changed will be contacted by BASS. Any BASS member registered as a Marshal in the impacted areas will have the option of receiving a full refund or transferring his or her deposit to another Elite event that has available slots on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at 407-566-2208. Visit ESPNOutdoorsMedia.com for ESPN Outdoors’ latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video, audio clips and more.
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