Schimpf, Reitz, and Bryant, highlight need for state action to ensure Grand American remains at Sparta shooting complex
Sparta- The World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) is in real danger of losing its largest annual event, the ATA Grand American. The State of Illinois can, however, take action to save the event, according to State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), Representatives Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) and Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville).
"Local stakeholders and competitive shooters have already been working on plans to hold this event in a manner that can comply with the social distancing guidelines and safety standards set by public health officials. My hope is that the state of Illinois will listen to their advice, recognize the importance of the Grand American to our region, and give the ATA the go-ahead to hold the event at the WSRC," said Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo).
"The Grand American is the largest shooting event of its kind, spanning multiple days and brings thousands of people from across the United States and the World to the complex. Without the Grand at WSRC, the complex's viability could be threatened due to the loss of revenues and visitors that help support it and our region," said State Representative Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville). "By keeping the Grand in Sparta, we are ensuring that the complex remains open as an economic driver for the area and for Southern Illinoisans to enjoy."
Currently, the entire WSRC is closed due to the ongoing statewide stay-at-home order. The Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA), which puts on the Grand American, has requested that the State of Illinois make a decision by June 15th on whether it will allow them to host the shoot at the WSRC. If Illinois declines to let the shoot proceed, the ATA will move the event to another state.
"The Sparta World Shooting and Recreational Complex is an economic engine for the entire southern Illinois region and the metro-east. Sportsmen and sportswomen come from all over the state, country, and the world to participate in world-class shooting events. It is essential that we get the World Shooting and Recreation Complex reopened in a safe, reasonable, responsible, and efficient manner," said 115th District State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro).
The ATA Grand American is the largest trapshooting event in the world. The event is estimated to have a regional impact of between $20 and $30 million, providing a $10 to $15 million boost to Randolph County alone. Just in the small town of Sparta, the annual event typically provides an additional $25 to $30 thousand in sales taxes.
"Trapshooting, and this event in particular, have social distancing built-in, much more so than even golf. Shooters are in small groups of people 9 feet apart, spread out over a huge area," said Senator Schimpf. "We believe this event can be held while meeting social distancing requirements, including cancelling any large meals or banquets. We just need the state to agree to let it go forward."