Feb. 7, 2004 – Sportfishing is set to make history on Thursday when the Big Game Room, the first-ever international exposition dedicated entirely to the sport of fishing, will make its debut at the 2004 Miami International Boat Show.
St. Thomas resident Jimmy Loveland, one of the BGR's primary organizers, hopes the landmark event will be "the largest gathering of fishermen ever assembled."
The idea for the Big Game Room came about a year ago, when Loveland was at the Miami boat show operating a booth for the U.S.V.I. Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, the premier sportfishing event held each year on St. Thomas. At the show, he and others got to talking about having an expo that specifically catered to sportfishing anglers.
After consulting with prospective vendors, Loveland says, he started contacting those in the sportfishing industry all over the world.
To say the response was positive is an understatement. All 75 booths for the BGR are sold out, and excitement is building, with exhibitors coming from as far away as Australia, Panama and Mozambique.
Taking part are manufacturers of big-game fishing equipment and representatives of visitor destinations where sportfishing takes place, fishing publications, boat builders, conservation organizations and, yes, the V.I. Tourism Department.
Although the expo's location at the boat show, which takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, is not in a high-traffic area, Loveland says he expects a strong turnout since "fishermen always go where the other fishermen go."
Leaving nothing to chance, however, BGR organizers have set up a number of events and attractions to entice the boat show visitors. ESPN fishing celebrities will be on hand, and there will be hourly seminars on such topics as swordfishing, along with hourly drawings for prizes and contest giveaways. The expo will even have its own watering hole, The Marlin Bar.
Loveland says the BGR will be marketed heavily during the boat show with Jumbotron ads and features on plasma screens throughout the convention center. And if all else fails, the BGR will rely on the Teaser Girls, an army of attractive young women who will be steering foot traffic toward the expo.
According to the Big Game Room Web site, the expo "will run the gamut, representing the sport of fishing in full force — with thousands of colorful lures, custom rods and fancy reels, and the latest in the game."
Loveland says he can just picture "the fishermen on overload, like at Disney World, finding so much product and information in one area."
The Big Game Room will be at the Miami International Boat Show Feb. 12-17. For more information, call Loveland at 775-9500 or check out what's posted on the Web site.
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