SALT LAKE CITY — Outdoor Retailer is asking other cities to start bidding to host its massive semi-annual trade show, suggesting Salt Lake City could lose it.
In a statement Monday, the group said it would solicit proposals for 2018 and beyond. Outdoor Retailer’s contract with Salt Lake City is through summer 2018.
“Outdoor Retailer has always been about ‘Right time, right place, right stuff,'” Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer said in a prepared statement. “We’ve been listening to the concerns from the industry and agree that it’s time to explore our options. Salt Lake City has been an incredible home to Outdoor Retailer and the outdoor community for the past 20 years, and we aren’t opposed to staying, but we need to do what’s best for the industry and for the business of outdoor retail.”
Outdoor Retailer is a massive economic contributor to the state. The group estimates that it’s brought more than a half-billion over the past 20 years, and about $25 million in direct spending for the week of the trade show alone.
Outdoor Retailer has done the contract negotiation dance with Salt Lake City every few years, but always choosing to remain. However, in the statement, Outdoor Retailer signaled frustration with the state’s political positions on public lands issues.
“The appropriate location of Outdoor Retailer should be determined by factors ranging from business economics for vendors and attendees to a location that upholds our industry’s core values around the importance of America’s public lands system,” said Amy Roberts, the executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “We will continue to educate policymakers on the economic contribution of our industry as well as our support of preserving places to recreate.”
During its last show, some leading outdoor gear manufacturers blasted Utah’s political leaders, particularly over their stance opposing the Bears Ears National Monument. Last week, the Utah State Legislature pushed through a resolution calling on President Trump to rescind the monument.
Governor Gary Herbert was scheduled to meet with OIA and Outdoor Retailer organizers next week, his spokesman Paul Edwards told FOX 13. It had been set up before the announcement of contract talks.
“It’s going to be tough to find a state that does more for their core values about recreation than the state of Utah,” Edwards said. “We’re confident this is a terrific place for the show itself and the industry in general.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski expressed confidence Outdoor Retailer would stay.
“We are confident that after careful consideration, OR will find that Salt Lake City remains the best possible place to host the Outdoor Retailer shows,” her office said in a statement. “With a long history of protecting open lands, and environmental stewardship–including passing one of the most progressive energy policies this year–the Capital City shares OR’s values and will work to demonstrate this to them once again.”