Grand American Trapshooting Tournament to continue in Sparta, IL

Tentative deal in place to keep Grand American Trapshooting Tournament in Sparta, IL
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca/KFVS)

SPARTA, IL (KFVS) - One of the largest shooting events in the world is staying in the Heartland.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, joined Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) Executive Director Lynn Gipson to announce that the Grand American World Trapshooting Championship would stay in Sparta, Illinois.

A formal announcement was made Friday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m., according to Lynn Gipson, executive director of the Amateur Trapshooting Association.

"While my ultimate goal continues to be the permanent reopening of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex, the economic impact that the AIM and Grand American have on the region is unparalleled, and ensuring that they stay will provide stability to participants, vendors and businesses that rely on the money these events bring to Southern Illinois," Costello said.

"These are the largest events held at the complex during any given year in terms of economic impact on Southern Illinois, which makes it all the more important that these events are staying in Sparta."

All types of target shooting were suspended at the Complex back on Sep. 30. The restaurant, event center and year round vendors have remained open, but due to the Illinois budget issue, shooting was suspended.

The 1,600 acres World Shooting Complex closed on Oct. 1, 2015 because the state had not appropriated funds to it.

The 2016 Grand American will be Aug. 3-13 at the complex.

If the complex would have remained closed, local businesses would be at a financial loss due to over 10,000 people attending the event in an alternate location. A 2013 study estimated that the annual economic impact of the Grand American alone was $10-$12 million to the area.

"This place supports Sparta big. You can drive through Sparta and see the difference it makes from the revenue this place generates," sportsman Bob Franey said.

Under the agreement, if there is still no Illinois budget by April 2016, the ATA and IDNR will work out an arrangement for the ATA to lease the World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) from the state for the months of June, July and August in 2016, which will allow shooting lanes to be open for the AIM youth program Grand Championship and the Grand American World Trapshooting Championship.

Franey says he hopes the announcement that the Grand American will return also means the rec area will return to normal operation.

"I hope they'll open it back up," Franey said.

Adding in other events throughout the year would likely double this impact, so in the nine years of the WSRC's existence, the estimated impact has totaled over $180 million.

The Grand American draws more than 16,000 people to Sparta including more than 4,600 competitors each year.

The tournament has been held every year for the past 115 years. The competition moved from Vendalia, Ohio to Sparta in 2001.

The Grand American brings in an estimated $12 million per year.

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