Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Outfitter bows out of coming to Toledo; Rossford still in running

Bass Pro Shops has decided not to build a store in the Marina District in East Toledo, The Blade has learned. But the giant sports outfitter is still considering Rossford s Crossroads of America site near the Ohio Turnpike and I-75.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said last night that he had had a conversation earlier this week with Jim Hagale, president of Bass Pro, but declined to discuss what was said.

Mr. Hagale could not be reached for comment last night.

State Rep. Robert Latta, (R., Bowling Green) said he was aware that Toledo had been told earlier in the week, in what he described as a courtesy call, that the city was no longer in the running for a Bass Pro store. Mr. Latta said he spoke with Mr. Hagale last night and was told the giant sports outfitter has not ruled out a location in Wood County but that the Springfield, Mo., company has yet to make its decision.

Mr. Latta said he has been working to get Bass Pro to locate in the county for more than eight years and would be excited for them to build there.

But he said he does not expect them to make a decision until after June 30, when a state law takes effect that permits counties to use part of their local sales-tax collections to underwrite the development costs for a major retailer-tourist destination project.

Although not site-specific, the tax break authority was requested by Wood County as part of its effort to lure Bass Pro.

State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said Bass Pro likely would first contact Wood County commissioners when the company makes its decision.

Whether internally Bass Pro has decided they want to be in Wood County, that s possible, but they have not notified Wood County commissioners, Mr. Gardner said.

Commissioners Alvin Perkins and James Carter said they have not heard from the company.

I m very hopeful they are going to select Wood County, Mr. Carter said.

Commissioner Tim Brown could not be reached for comment.

Edward Ciecka, Rossford administrator, said he had heard nothing yesterday.

He said that Bass Pro has been working most closely with the Wood County Economic Development Commission and with the Rossford-Perrysburg Township Port Authority.

If Bass Pro is selecting a site in Rossford, it represents an opportunity to bring in a destination shopping experience, Mr. Ciecka said.

Cabela s in Michigan is listed as one of the three top tourist attractions in Michigan. We hope we would see the same type of generation of traffic to the area. And hopefully it would interest others to locate here as well, Mr. Ciecka said.

Mr. Ciecka did not know how many people Bass Pro planned to employ.

Bass Pro Shops has 33 stores, which the company considers destinations and which attracts 78 million people annually. Bass Pro also is a major Internet and catalog retailer.

Mr. Finkbeiner went to great lengths Jan. 23 to woo Bass Pro to the Marina District.

That included billboards adorned with slogans such as Jim, Toledo s hooked on [Bass Pro]. In place of the words Bass Pro was the company s logo, a fish.

The mayor escorted Mr. Hagale on a helicopter tour to show off the city s interstate access points.

The build-it-in-Toledo effort began when Bass Pro, which is an outdoors superstore along the lines of a Cabela s, told Toledo officials that Mr. Hagale would be in the area.

He was predominantly in town to look at a potential site out in Wood County. He agreed to meet with the mayor and a few people. We took that time to sell him on the Marina District, Robert Reinbolt, the mayor s chief of staff, said at the time.

Blade staff writers Meghan Gilbert, Mark Zaborney, and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.

Contact Mike Bartell at: or 419-724-6050.

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