In a very forthright e-mail last week, Steve Arndt, Director of Bay Point Marina in Panama City Beach, announced that the 2012 Bay Point Billfish Tournament has been cancelled. Printed below is the full text of Steve’s e-mail. The Bay Point has been a trend-setting billfish tournament over the years, adopting video “weigh-ins,” among other practices. Click here for a feature article about the Bay Point, printed in the May 2008 issue of FS.
–Jeff Weakley, Editor
By now you may have heard rumors that there won’t be a Billfish Tournament at Bay Point this year. As much as I hate to say it, the rumors are true: the 2012 Bay Point Invitational has been canceled. You can see the official press release at www.baypointbillfish.com.
There are a number of reasons why. Blame it on the economy, high fuel costs, lower participation, you name it, but it’s become more difficult than ever to produce a quality event.
For instance, the rising cost of fuel has become a major factor and has more than doubled in the last 8 years. Almost all of our out of town boats come from west of here (Orange Beach, Pensacola, Pascagoula, New Orleans, etc). They also like to fish west of here. It’s been harder and harder to convince them to run to over to PC for the tournament, then run back west to fish, turn around and head back here to weigh-in, then cruise back home.
Now that there are almost a dozen big money tournaments along the Gulf Coast, they’re choosing to fish closer to home. In the past few years we’ve lowered entry fees and alllowed boats to leave from other ports to try and boost our numbers. It’s helped, but not enough to counteract the slow decline in participation.
Our biggest obstacle this year, though, was more logistical: where to park the vehicles? This wasn’t a problem back in the day when we had vacant lots and plenty of space on the golf course. Times have changed though, and we barely have enough space for our own boat owners, much less the participants and spectators. For the past few years we’ve been able to use the old tennis courts north of the marina, but they’ve been converted into a beautiful new park, and all the old vacant space has been developed. There’s simply no place to park everyone.
Please keep in mind that although we’ve got some pretty big obstacles, we’ll keep searching for ways to host the type of high quality event you’ve come to expect. I can’t say for certain what the future holds for the Invitational, but I’m hopeful.
In the meantime, stay tuned to baypointbillfish.com. We’ll keep you posted.
Bay Point Marina