IGFA sells HQ to aid future conservation efforts

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), a leader in game fish conservation, has sold its headquarters buildings and land to bring in cash for its endowment and safeguard its work.

The building and the south parcel of its Florida property has been sold to Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s while the north parcel has gone to Baywood Hotels.

This transformative tri-party deal, valued at nearly $20 million, includes $15.5 million towards the IGFA’s endowment and an additional $4.4 million of 12 1/2 years of prepaid rent, marking a pivotal moment in the organization's storied history dedicated to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices.

This sale comes as a result of a collaborative effort years in the making between the IGFA and Bass Pro Shops founder and IGFA Trustee Emeritus, Johnny Morris.

Originally opened in 1999 thanks to a generous land donation made by Morris, the IGFA’s headquarters sits within Sportsman’s Park adjacent to Bass Pro Shops and notably featured the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame. Thanks to its strong network of supporters, the IGFA paid off the building mortgage in 2008.

Following dwindling attendance numbers and the loss of a $1 million tax credit from the state of Florida, the IGFA relocated its Fishing Hall of Fame in 2015 to Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri ahead of its 2017 grand opening.

IGFA president Jason Schratwieser explained: “By transforming the bricks and mortar that once housed the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame into an endowment, we are securing the continued growth of the IGFA’s mission-driven programs in perpetuity.

“This is a monumental step not only for our members and representatives but for everyone who loves the sport of fishing.”

By redirecting underutilised resources from its physical headquarters, the organisation said it has fortified its commitment to a future where game fish conservation transcends geographical boundaries.

This move marks a shift towards an era of global expansion for the IGFA, emphasising wide-reaching programs that will make the organisation’s resources and initiatives accessible to a broader international audience.

The bolstered endowment ensures not only the continuation but the vigorous expansion of the IGFA's work in safeguarding game fish and their habitats, promoting ethical angling, and fostering a new generation of conservationists, irrespective of their location.

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris added: “Conservation and inspiring young anglers to be the next generation of outdoor stewards are vital to the future of our beloved sport and the habitats that sustain it. We’re incredibly proud to further our commitment to the IGFA and its noble mission.”

As part of the agreement, the IGFA will continue to occupy its current executive offices and the E.K. Harry Library of Fishes rent-free for the next 12 1/2 years, ensuring its enduring presence in South Florida, a location with rich angling history and deep ties to the IGFA’s origins.