SALT LAKE CITY -- The massive Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Markets has decided to stay in Utah.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams announced the huge convention and expo will be staying at the Salt Palace through 2018 during a news conference Monday. It has been in Utah for nearly 20 years now.
"Salt Lake, and the State of Utah have proven to be wonderful hosts to the Outdoor Industry and to Outdoor Retailer over the years," Marisa Nicholson, VP and Outdoor Retailer Show Director, said in a statement to FOX 13. "The community is welcoming, supportive and we feel at home during our two weeks in town. We are pleased to work with the Visit Salt Lake team, various elected officials, and the housing and business communities to continue to make the Outdoor Retailer Markets the most significant events for the industry."
After surveying more than 6,000 of its attendees and exhibitors, Emerald Expositions (the organizers of Outdoor Retailer) said the majority overwhelmingly favored staying in Salt Lake City. The renewal of the contract brought sighs of relief from local businesses and politicians; the OR show brings in an estimated $40 million in direct economic impact to Utah each year. It's much more when businesses that have relocated to Utah and ongoing tourism is taken into account (estimates are in the billions of dollars).
"This is always a big announcement and when it's a client that's much more than your typical convention, it's a big day," said Scott Beck, the President & CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
Other cities have tried to lure the OR show. The Idaho State Legislature recently passed a resolution trying to bring it to Boise. Denver has also been named as a possible alternative destination. In the past, Outdoor Retailer has complained about Utah lawmakers' stance on public lands issues and the lack of a convention center hotel.
"The state is working on addressing some of those issues," said Val Hale, the Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
The Outdoor Industry Association said in a statement that it looks forward to an ongoing conversation.
"For over two decades the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City has played an important role in the convening and growth of the industry," Amy Roberts, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association said in a statement. "Outdoor recreation is an important economic driver in Utah and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the state of Utah around public lands issues. Additionally, we will support continued efforts to increase hotel accommodations and local infrastructure to ensure the city continues to provide a positive attendee experience especially for specialty retailers."
McAdams was doubling down his efforts to get a convention center hotel after walking away from a bid by Omni Hotels, the lone bidder for the project approved by the legislature. In an interview with FOX 13, McAdams said that a new bid request would be out by next month. One new incentive could be land on the Salt Palace grounds itself, building a high-rise hotel near the ballroom and plaza or where the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art sits.
The Salt Lake City Mayor's Office told FOX 13 on Monday that current city ordinances allow for buildings to go up to 34 stories on corners and about 10 stories mid-block without obtaining a conditional variance from the city council. Buildings can be taller, if permitted through a site design review process.
The Salt Lake County Mayor's Office estimates it has lost dozens of conventions and trade shows because of a lack of a convention center hotel. Beck said it is increasingly becoming necessary.
"It's an absolute must have," he said. "Without it, we don't have a future as a convention destination. Not just with Outdoor Retailer, this is an absolute necessity for our product and to maintain relevancy as a convention destination."