Southern Illinois stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in economic activity if the state does not officially approve the ATA Grand American event in the next 10 days, according to State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo).
“If there was ever a time that our region desperately needs an influx of economic activity, it’s right now.” said State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo). “The ATA Grand American can be held safely, and it offers us a financial lifeline that we can’t afford to lose.”
The ATA Grand American is the largest trapshooting competition in the world. The event has been held at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex (WSRC) in Sparta since 2006. According to economic studies, the financial impact of the event on the region is between $20 and $30 million. The event is tentatively scheduled for July 31st through August 15th, but under the governor’s reopening plan, gatherings with more than 10 people are not currently allowed. Because of the lead time needed for planning purposes, the ATA has said that they need approval to hold the event in Sparta by June 15th or they will have to find an alternate site in another state.
“The Grand American is the largest national trapshooting competition in the entire United States, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to our rural community for over two weeks out of the year,” said Sparta Mayor Jason Schlimme. “The ability to maintain this relationship with the American Trapshooting Association is vital to our economy in Southern Illinois.”
“The World Shooting Complex has been a valuable part of tourism within our region, creating significant economic impact for businesses and individuals within Randolph County,” said David Holder, Chairman of the Randolph Count Board of Commissioners. “We fully support its reopening and stand ready the to help the Department of Natural Resources and the Amateur Trap Shooting Association with whatever logistical support they may require in order to assure they are able to host events in this location for 2020 and years to come.”
On June 4th, Senator Schimpf and a bipartisan group of Southern Illinois legislators formally requested that the State of Illinois approve the event. He noted that the event can be held safely while using social distancing guidelines. He points to the fact that participants stand 9 feet apart during competition, spread out over 120 shooting fields on a 1,600 acre site. Few spectators attend the event, and they are positioned away from competitors, judges, and staff. Additionally, the ATA has made procedural changes to how the event is conducted to create an even safer environment.
“We can’t afford to throw away $30 million in economic activity, especially over safety concerns when we know this event can be held safely,” said State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo). “The people of this area desperately need the financial boost. We need state government to step up and do the right thing by approving the Grand American.”