Actions have consequences. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s (political) science-based ChiCom flu restrictions precluded the Land of Lincoln from hosting The Grand American national trap shooting championships in Sparta, Illinois. So the Amateur Trap Association, acting rationally, has moved the massive event to Missouri where that state’s residents and governor are “ecstatic” to host everyone.
Built at a cost of about $50 million in the mid-2000s in actual construction costs plus infrastructure improvements, the Sparta facility was touted as the nicest shooting facility in the nation. The “World Shooting and Recreation Center” is nice, no doubt. It covers 1,600 acres, and has almost 750 campsites, 120 trap fields and a monstrous 34,000 square foot events center.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources built the Sparta shooting facility with an eye towards coaxing the Amateur Trapshooting Association to bring the tournament from Vandalia, Ohio to Sparta. The ATA needed a massive facility, but lacked the capital to build one. Illinois – with its huge budget surpluses – eagerly stepped into the gap.
The facility’s proponents claimed it would be a money-making venture for the state, to the tune of $50 million or more in economic development, annually.
Those predictions have shown themselves about as accurate as Seattle’s ammo tax projections. The facility hasn’t turned a profit since it was built, much less bringing in anywhere near $50 million annually to the state. It has hemorrhaged cash each and every year.
Now, with the Grand American pulling out, Sparta will likely face closure under the gun-hating Governor Pritzker’s administration if the ATA likes what it sees in Missouri and doesn’t come back next year. Supposedly the ATA and Illinois have a contract through 2026, but contracts can be broken. Clearly Illinois didn’t honor its end of the bargain this year.
The Grand American, the largest trapshooting event in the world, is leaving Illinois and heading to Missouri this year.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Natural Resources ruled that the annual event cannot take place near Sparta because of COVID-19 health concerns. Restrictions regarding the size of public gatherings under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan left organizers scrambling.
“The health and safety of participants who would attend, as well as spectators and staff, must remain top-of-mind,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said.
In anticipation of the decision, the Amateur Trapshooting Association had determined if the event could not be held near Sparta, Illinois, it would be relocated to Linn Creek, Missouri, in Lake of the Ozarks.
Nice job, Governor Pritzker. You’re quite the leader.