Tough road for Bass Pro?

HARLINGEN — It’s been a long, hard hike to nowhere for national sporting goods chains, with five of them going out of business within the past 12 months.

Among those are Sports Authority, Sports Chalet and Eastern Outfitters. Now, media reports this week are saying Gander Mountain is negotiating with creditors to avoid bankruptcy.

Gander Mountain has locations in Laredo and San Antonio.

Closer to home, this fallout within the sporting goods industry could have an impact on whether federal antitrust regulators green-light Bass Pro Shops’ acquisition of Cabela’s for $5.5 billion.

The Bass Pro-Cabela’s merger announced in October appears to be in some difficulty. Regulators from the Federal Trade Commission have again asked for more information about the proposed sale, indicating concerns on their part.

This second request issuance “does not indicate that the FTC has concluded that the transaction raises competition concerns,” Cabela’s said Friday, even as the company’s stock price fell sharply at the news.

Jimmy Gleason is a lecturer in business law in the Department of International Business in UTRGV’s Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship. He has a law degree from Duke University and a doctorate in political science from Purdue University.

And growing up in Alaska, he knows a thing or two about hunting and fishing.

“It’s unique in that a number of major retailers that specialize in this stuff or have significant investments have gone down,” he said yesterday.

“Cabela’s and Bass Pro combined are probably in the neighborhood of 20 percent of the market, but you’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar industry,” said Gleason. “Yet you can go to Wal-Mart and you can purchase many of the same things there.”

So are regulators’ concerns about the merger creating an uncompetitive business advantage for a unified company valid?

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By the numbers

$76 billion — Annual U.S. sales of sporting goods

$5.5 billion — Bass Pro Shops’ offer for Cabela’s

80 — Number of Ca-bela’s U.S. stores

100 — Number of Bass Pro’s U.S. stores