- Jay Kumar, BassFan CEO, 908-638-5788
- Ladd Biro, Champion CEO, 682-831-1233
- Scot Laney, PAA executive director, 503-546-8137
New Top Gun Championship Will Feature
Best of the Best in Pro Bass Fishing
- Champion Management To Handle Sponsorships -
DALLAS, Texas, Aug. 14, 2003 -- BassFan, the only company to provide daily coverage of professional fishing, announced today that it will hold the first Top Gun Championship next summer at a for-now undisclosed location. The Professional Anglers Association-sanctioned tournament will bring together the world's Top 40 professional bass anglers from both major tours, as determined by the State Farm-BassFan World Rankings, to crown the sport's undisputed world champion. Along with the fierce competition, the three-day event will include numerous fan- and family-friendly activities.
"We're very psyched to bring this event to the fans," said BassFan CEO Jay Kumar. "BASS and FLW have their tour championships, and while those are certainly fan-friendly, we wanted to create a major-league event that is 100-percent geared to the millions of fans of professional bass fishing."
That goal will be accomplished in several ways. First is by pitting the best anglers in the world against each other, regardless of which tour they fish. "With fewer anglers fishing both tours due to schedule and other conflicts, the Top Gun Championship will be the only event where fans can see the world's top anglers compete head-to-head for the ultimate title," Kumar said.
Another fan-friendly enhancement is that fans of all ages will be able to interact with the pros in new ways. While details weren't revealed, BassFan noted that the lake will be a place where spectators can easily view the anglers without impeding the competitors' fishing.
The venue also will be new to tour-level fishing, allowing fans and pros alike to experience new water with an abundance of good-sized bass.
In keeping with BassFan's for-the-fans philosophy, the Top Gun Championship will not place any sponsor restrictions or requirements on the anglers, making it the only major tournament in professional fishing that allows such freedom. "We want the fans to see the pros fish with their own equipment, and we want the pros to be able to give due credit to their sponsors and be absolutely comfortable out on the water," Kumar said. "We just feel that that's how it should be done." The tournament also will not have an entry fee, and every angler will earn a cash prize (the purse was not disclosed).
Anglers participating in the tournament will be presented with a specially-designed Top Gun patch to wear on their shirts, and Top Gun decals to display on their boats and vehicles. "We see it as a badge of honor that the fishermen can display proudly if they so choose, signifying their selection as 'All Pro' in their sport," said Kumar, adding that "only 40 people each year will earn the right to wear that patch." Along with a trophy and check, the winner will also receive a one-of-a-kind patch designating him as the world's Top Gun for that year.
All companies in the fishing and boating industries, including FLW Outdoors and ESPN Outdoors/BASS, are invited to participate in the festivities surrounding the event. "We support everyone involved in fishing, including both major organizations," Kumar said. "We welcome them to Top Gun to show off their trails and their member benefits." He noted that "BassFan.com is the natural connecting point between the fans, the pros and the industry, and the Top Gun Championship will share that outlook."
Sanctioned by the PAA
This is the first event sanctioned by the Professional Anglers Association (PAA), the players association of professional bass anglers, which endorses the State Farm-BassFan World Rankings as the official rankings of the sport.
"This type of event is the future of bass fishing," said PAA executive director Scot Laney. "The anglers aren't fishing for their own money, and the event is built around the fans of bass angling. That is very important to the PAA. Our members understand that it's the angler-fans out there who drive this business.
"This event also gives the best anglers in the world a unique opportunity to work for their sponsors," he said. "These sponsors are an essential part of the business of bass fishing, though lately in the sport they are often overlooked. We recognize that the sponsors have made a major financial commitment to their anglers, and we're glad that Top Gun will allow our anglers to highlight what we feel are some of the best companies in the world."
Champion Management Engaged to Handle Sponsorships
BassFan also announced that Dallas-based Champion Management will be handling sponsorship sales and related functions for the Top Gun Championship. The sports and entertainment marketing agency has extensive experience working with corporate America on high-profile sporting events. Its president and CEO, Ladd Biro, previously managed American Airlines' sponsorships of the NFL, NBA, World Cup, U.S. Ski Team, America's Cup and countless golf and tennis tournaments. Champion also represents Hulk Hogan, boxer Roy Jones, Jr., Rocket Ismail, Melanie Troxel (the world's fastest drag racer), Tony Dorsett and two-time BASS Angler of the Year Gary Klein.
"We're extremely excited about the opportunity the Top Gun Championship represents for everyone in bass fishing, particularly the fans and pros who have been clamoring for a true championship pitting the best against the best," Biro said. "We see this as the purest 'major' in professional fishing, along with the Bassmaster Classic and the FLW Championship. Any company interested in associating with the most important annual event in this sport should look at Top Gun. It will be big, it will be world-class and, most importantly, it will be fun for everyone."
"We're absolutely thrilled to be working with Ladd and his team at Champion Management," Kumar said. "They're a top-notch agency, and they understand the importance of the Top Gun event to our sport and its fans. We're expecting a tremendous amount of sponsor interest in Top Gun, and Champion will play a key role in ensuring their experience is outstanding in every way."
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