GREENSBORO — It looks like the outdoorsman is going to fill up the indoor Raleigh Convention Center.
Eddie Bridges, the conservationist from Greensboro, figures to have the largest contingent of supporters ever to attend the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet when its 56th induction class is honored Friday night.
Bridges, a lifelong advocate for outdoor sports, is one of 12 inductees this year, a class that also includes retired N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway, former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan, Guilford College alumnus Thell Overman, PGA Tour star Davis Love III (a three-time winner in Greensboro), and former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It’s a lot of star power. But Bridges could be the star of the night.
“It’s going to be a neat event,” Bridges says. “The wild turkey people bought a table. The bowhunters bought a table. There’s going to be 20-plus tables of outdoors people. Don Fish (Hall of Fame executive director) tells me I’ve got the most people coming there on my behalf than anyone in the history of the North Carolina Hall of Fame. That’s a great compliment.”
Bridges’ work as an advocate for hunting, fishing and conservation is nationally known. North Carolina’s lifetime hunting and fishing licenses were his idea, and that program alone has raised more than $110 million to acquire and protect land for wildlife and fish.
Bridges founded the non-profit North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation, a group that has raised $5 million over time and paid for about $1.5 million in projects all over the state.
And a whole bunch of people are coming to Raleigh to fill those 10-seat tables for Bridges.
“(Don Fish) says they’re expecting about 1,200 people,” Bridges said. “I would think there would be a bunch of NASCAR and golf people there for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Davis Love III. And I guess a lot of people are there for me.
“I think that’s going to send a loud, loud message to North Carolina about how important the outdoors – hunting, fishing, conservation – is to the economy of our state. It’s not all about Eddie Bridges, it’s about thousands and thousands of people who enjoy the outdoors. And that pleases me a lot. Hopefully, it can open some eyes and open the (Hall of Fame) doors for other people who are deserving.”