Bass Pro Shops Grand Opening

Bass Pro set to open Harlingen store

November 13, 2011 8:45 PM
Valley Morning Star
GRAND OPENING EVE: >> Wednesday at 10 a.m. the city of Harlingen will cut a ribbon to open the new Bass Pro Shops Drive and the railroad crossing it built. Then, at 6 p.m. that evening, Bass Pro Shops will hold an “Evening for Conservation.” The store will be open at this time and will donate 50 cents of every $1 spent that night to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s “More Fish” campaign to save fish and their habitats. Many popular sporting personalities are scheduled to appear, including Jimmy Houston, host of the Jimmy Houston Outdoors television show; Jerry Martin, a RedHead Pro Hunting team member; marksman Chris Reed, the History Channel’s 2011 Top Shot champion; and billiards star Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee. >> Thursday morning at 7:30 a ceremony including a ribbon-cutting with Bass Pro Shops and the Economic Development Corp. will take place, and at 8 a.m. the store will have its grand opening.
HARLINGEN — After more than four years of negotiating, planning, budgeting and building, Bass Pro Shops will open this week. “We’re all very excited about this,” said Bill Martin, Economic Development Corp. CEO. “Bass Pro Shops is a destination retail store that will draw millions of customers that would not ordinarily be shopping in Harlingen. Cooperation on this project has really been wonderful. Everyone has pitched in.” Thursday morning at 7:30 a ceremony including a ribbon-cutting with Bass Pro Shops and the EDC will take place, and at 8 a.m. the store will have its grand opening. The road to getting to the opening hasn’t been easy, officials have said. The project — announced April 30, 2010 — wasn’t set in stone until after seven months of negotiations, Martin said. “We had seven months of sometimes very difficult negotiations to make this project come together,” Martin said. “And really, it wasn’t until Dec. 11 of 2010 that I felt like we were really going to have a Bass Pro Shop.” That’s the day the City Commission and the EDC met to approve a 20-year lease agreement with Bass Pro. The agreement was that the EDC-owned building at the Expressway 77/83 interchange would be leased by Bass Pro, with the outdoor retailer paying a percentage of gross sales to the EDC. The largest portion of the project was set to be funded through $32,225,000 in sales tax revenue bonds. The momentum just built from there. For those in local building-trades businesses, the agreement was seen as a potential godsend for an industry hit hard by the national economic meltdown. In January of this year, a little more than a month after the contract was signed, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 450 people met at Casa Del Sol for a building subcontractors summit, of sorts. All of them had gone with hopes of getting a piece of what was then being estimated as a $41 million project. The meeting, hosted by the city of Harlingen, was intended to provide information to anyone interested in subcontracting work. Steven Callendar, project manager for Bass Pro Shops, said the goal was to start construction “on or about” Feb. 1 and finish in nine months. “It’s a tight schedule,” Callendar said at the time. “We want to be open by Thanksgiving.” He had encouraging words for everyone in the audience: “Bass Pro Shops encourages the use of local subcontractors wherever possible.” Groundbreaking was in March. In August, officials said half of the subcontractors building the 150,000-square-foot store were from the Rio Grande Valley or have offices here. During a three-day job fair in October, between 2,500 and 3,000 prospective workers submitted applications, said Pat Hobbs, executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron. Store manager Homer Saenz later said 325 workers, all but one from the Harlingen area, had been hired for the new store, 11 of whom are salaried managers. An additional 100 seasonal workers are expected to be hired, he said. “This really has been a four-year effort by a lot of people, the Economic Development Corporation, the city of Harlingen, Bass Pro Shops, our developer — a lot of people have been involved,” Martin said. “We’re about to see some results from all that hard work.” -- Danielle Altenburg writes for the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen. -- GRAND OPENING EVE >> Wednesday at 10 a.m. the city of Harlingen will cut a ribbon to open the new Bass Pro Shops Drive and the railroad crossing it built. Then, at 6 p.m. that evening, Bass Pro Shops will hold an “Evening for Conservation.” The store will be open at this time and will donate 50 cents of every $1 spent that night to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s “More Fish” campaign to save fish and their habitats. Many popular sporting personalities are scheduled to appear, including Jimmy Houston, host of the Jimmy Houston Outdoors television show; Jerry Martin, a RedHead Pro Hunting team member; marksman Chris Reed, the History Channel’s 2011 Top Shot champion; and billiards star Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee. >> Thursday morning at 7:30 a ceremony including a ribbon-cutting with Bass Pro Shops and the Economic Development Corp. will take place, and at 8 a.m. the store will have its grand opening.