Bassmaster's Elite Series, which has held tournaments at Clarks Hill Lake five of the past six years, won't be coming back in 2011.
The Florida-based organization's schedule, announced today, includes an inaugural event at another Georgia venue -- West Point Lake near LaGrange -- May 5-8. The series then skips its former Columbia County stop before its next event at Lake Murray, near Columbia, on May 12-15. Lake Murray played host to a tournament in 2008.
West Point has never held an Elite event, despite having served previously as tournament waters for one Bassmaster Open and four Invitationals, said BASS publicist Doug Grassian.
The 2005 Open was the last pro-level BASS event held there. The 35-mile long lake is on the Chattahoochee River and straddles the Alabama-Georgia state line.
The event held in Columbia County has been popular, but local officials have said in recent months that the county might not be willing to finance the tournament's local host fee -- paid by the county from hotel and motel tax revenues.
The fee for the first event, held in 2005, was $25,000, but that sum was a discount because the county stepped in after another venue option had fallen through. The fee was $35,000 the following year and has risen gradually to about $50,000.
Grassian said there was no particular reason why the series won't be here in 2011 -- and doesn't rule out a return to the area in the future.
"We feel comfortable with Clarks Hill and would welcome a return to the area," he said. "We do like to expose new communities to our events and we have been at Clarks Hill five out of the past six years, and the schedule reflects that."
Bassmaster held events at the lake in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and again in May.
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