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Outdoor Retailer

Salt Lake City could lose Outdoor Retailer in fall 2018

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Emerald Expositions seeking proposals for Outdoor Retailer shows in late 2018 and beyond.

Amy Roberts, Rich Hill, Marisa Nicholson
From left: Amy Roberts, Rich Hill, and Marisa Nicholson. // Photo by Caveman Collective

Outdoor Retailer has announced that its contract with the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City is up next year, and that it will solicit proposals for a new venue for November 2018 and beyond.

Utah’s poor record on public lands was a significant factor in searching for a new city to play host to the more than 30,000 people who flock to the trade show twice each year, according to Outdoor Retailer, the Outdoor Industry Association, and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance.

“The ultimate hope is that there’s a policy change in Utah,” said Rich Hill, president of GOA, which plans to co-locate with Outdoor Retailer for the first time in 2018.

There are other factors at play, too, said Darrell Denny, executive VP for Emerald Expositions’ sports group, but he did not elaborate. This was not spurred by Colorado’s recent attempts to make itself more attractive to Outdoor Retailer, he said. But some outdoor industry brands that exhibit at OR have begun to criticize Utah for not supporting outdoor recreation through its policies. Patagonia has threatened to make this year’s Summer Market its last OR show in Utah.

“There’s no doubt that we have concerns and that our members have concerns about public policy decisions coming out of Utah,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of OIA. “We want to be in a place that recognizes economic contribution of our industry.”

Utah Republicans have sought to sell off public lands and are fighting to reverse former President Barack Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument. They’ve also sought to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Last week, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz promised to drop a bill he introduced to sell “excess” public lands, citing public outcry from the sportsman community. At the time, OIA said it was not sure that Chaffetz’s move signaled a more favorable view of public lands in the state of Utah, and that it expected to continue defending outdoor recreation.

Emerald Expositions, Outdoor Retailer’s parent company, said it could not release a list of cities that are potential candidates to host the show. Salt Lake City has not been ruled out entirely, however.

“Our responsibilities as producers of the Outdoor Retailer shows require us to consider all aspects of any city and state that may serve as host to the thousands of brands, retailers, media and others who make up the entire outdoor community,” Denny said in a press release issued by Outdoor Retailer Monday afternoon. “Those criteria include facilities, hotels, transportation, labor costs, environmental policies and the degree to which host states are in sync with outdoor industry values. This decision allows us to explore new venues while taking all of these factors into account. That said, Salt Lake City has been a welcoming and beneficial host to Outdoor Retailer for many years and will be among candidates to continue to be the host city.”