An experience for fishing fans that is the first of its kind opens at 10 a.m. Friday in the SageNet Center at Expo Square in Tulsa.
With free parking and free admission, The Major League Fishing Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Costa is filling the 250,000-square-foot venue with 130 booths, and ongoing Redcrest tournament action from Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees via a live broadcast stage at the center with a 36-foot screen and 25 more 50-inch screens scattered through the displays.
It sets up the unique possibility for a fishing fan to stand side-by-side with one of their favorite pros to watch their shared sport on TV.
“This is something new, and we’re not hiding from the fact that we don’t do a weigh-in show,” said Michael Mulone, vice president of Strategic Business Planning for MLF. “We have turned fishing into a watchable event like any other sport where the competitors and fans know exactly what the score is as it plays out,” he said.
He compared the new fan experience to those who go to e-sports conventions to watch others play at the top of their game in video games.
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“It’s a complete change in the game of how you play and how you watch,” he said.
While visual tech and fan interaction with the pros is big, the family-friendly event still boils down to a showcase for both the biggest national sponsors like Toyota, Lowrance, Mercury and Berkeley as well as local vendors, he said.
The Bank of Oklahoma Kids Zone includes a BB gun range sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, an area for a coloring contest, prize giveaways and a kids fishing pond stocked with catfish.
MLF hosts a kids event for youth from the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa as a kickoff to the event with more than 50 children, age 5-13, from the Mabee Red Shield Unit and North Mabee Unit among the first to fish the pond between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
The Expo is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Country music star Blane Howard will perform free concerts at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, while Clayton Anderson will headline the free concert series with a performance at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Giveaways and prizes at the show include everything from angler jerseys to $100,000 prizes or a new 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup.