One of America's oldest and most unique sporting events, the Grand
American has evolved into the premier shooting event in the world,
including nearly 7,000 competitors. With its rich history and
storied events, the Grand American attracts shooters from around the
globe who will all descend on southwest Illinois over the next 11
days to compete for over 400 trophies and $1 million in prizes.
"This is what the last several years of planning and hard work were
all about," said Sam Flood, acting director of the Department of
Natural Resources. "The world's premier shooting facility is now
home to the world's premier shooting event. We're proud to have the
ATA and the Grand American call Sparta home this year and well into
Originally a four-day tournament in June, the Grand American
dates back to 1893, when the first was held in Dexter Park in Long
Island, N.Y., with just 74 entries. Through the years, the Grand
American traveled to such cities as Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; and St.
Louis, Mo.; before making a permanent home in Vandalia, Ohio, in
1924. The Amateur Trapshooting Association home ground remained
there until 2005.
"We are grateful to Governor Blagojevich and the IDNR for this
opportunity," said Ken Duncan, president of the
Amateur Trapshooting Association.
"Due to the city of Dayton [Ohio] airport expansion, we were
literally forced to seek new home grounds. The state of Illinois and
IDNR offered to construct this beautiful facility to host our
tournament. IDNR not only provided us with the opportunity to
continue the Grand American, but have provided us the use of the
most impressive shooting facility in the world."
Construction of the
Shooting and Recreational Complex was approved by Illinois Gov.
Rod R. Blagojevich in 2003. The 1,600-acre facility features 250
acres of water; 120 trap fields extending 3.5 miles; two sporting
clay courses; a Cowboy Action Shooting corral; permanent exhibition
building; 746 recreational vehicle campsites with electric, water
and sanitary services, and an additional 264 sites with electrical
service, providing potential for camping jamborees; a multipurpose
recreational facility; gift shop; and full-service restaurant and
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Ground was broken for the complex in the fall of 2004, and it
took approximately 16 months for the work to be completed. Costs for
the project will total approximately $50 million. The state's
Capital Development Board provided $31.5 million in capital funding
to secure the project and also managed the construction of the
facilities. The Illinois Department of Transportation reallocated
$10 million for road improvements in the area. And $8 million in
local bonds for water and sewer improvements will be repaid to the
city of Sparta over the next 20 years.
As a way to welcome visitors of the Grand American to their new
home, the city of Sparta, the Amateur Trapshooting Association, the
Department of Natural Resources, and a number of local and corporate
sponsors have teamed up to show visitors what southwestern Illinois
is all about. The southwestern Illinois tourism bureau will host
tours of area attractions for visitors during the Grand American
shooting competition Aug. 8-18. Visitors can tour the area where
Popeye cartoon creator Elzie Segar lived, experience horse racing at
Fairmont Park, shop at locally owned specialty and antique shops,
visit a local winery, and much more.
"The city of Sparta and Randolph County are excited about the
future opportunities for our area due to the World Shooting and
Recreational Complex opening," said Sparta Mayor Randy Bertetto.
"This complex will not only create new jobs and increase tax
revenue, but will also make Sparta the destination for thousands of
people. This entire area looks forward to an exciting and prosperous
Department of Natural Resources news release]