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BASS TOURNEY '90 PERCENT SURE' OF RETURNING TO BUFFALO NEXT YEAR

Operation Bass is "90 percent sure" it will return the Red Man All-American to Buffalo in 1991.

"We want to come back," said Mike Whitaker, the organization's founder and president, "and Buffalo wants us back. There are some logistics problems that have to be ironed out, and I hope we can come to an agreement on those things soon."

It's estimated Operation Bass -- which brought 40 anglers, a 30-person staff and a press corps of about 65, along with wives and other family members -- spent about $250,000 here this week.

The organization estimates the long-term publicity value to the host community might be worth $3.5 million, a figure disputed by local tourism officials, who spent about $24,000 to provide the Convention Center, some meals and fuel for the fleet of identical bass boats used in the tourney.

Among the untallied benefits: Anglers who competed used terms like "fisherman's paradise" and "best small-mouth bass fishing around" at daily press conferences, and several newspaper reporters have filed stories to their papers extolling the variety of fishing opportunities available in Western New York.

-- MICHAEL LEVY

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