Outdoor Retailer Opens Door to Possibly Finding New Home

February 7, 2017

Emerald Expositions’ Outdoor Retailer has opened the door to possibly moving its show out of its long-time home at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.

The show recently announced, in cooperation with Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, that it will solicit proposals for venue locations for shows and events scheduled for November 2018 and beyond.

“Outdoor Retailer has always been about ‘Right time, right place, right stuff,’” said Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.

She added, “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.”

Those concerns from the industry not only include the show growing so much during the years that it no longer has room at the Salt Palace for further expansion, but also issues at a state level with public outdoor space possibly being privatized.

Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, said in his 10-year tenure at the bureau that this is the 2nd time an RFP process has been undertaken by the owners of the OR Markets. "So, the RFP process is not unexpected or new," he said.

Beck added, "But. there is clearly a growing concern among some in the industry that their collective ethos and their long held views on the preservation of public lands is not reflected in the actions of our Governor, Legislature and our federal delegation.  That said, the community of Salt Lake and the Salt Palace Convention Center are among the most sustainable in the industry, and we hope via the RFP process that we can show how the business event called the OR Markets have a strong partner in the stewardship of our natural environment in Salt Lake."

The Outdoor Industry Association agreed with the decision for Outdoor Retailer to go out for bid: “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. We will continue to educate policymakers on the economic contribution of our industry as well as our support of preserving places to recreate.”

This isn’t the first time that Outdoor Retailer has considered moving its show to another location. In the past, it has sent out surveys to its members and, although there were rumblings of a possible move, the show reupped its contract in Salt Lake City three years ago.

The biannual Outdoor Retailer shows, which draw nearly 30,000 attendees each and span more than 500,000 net square feet and has been held in Salt Lake since 1996, brings in $40 million annually to Salt Lake City and the surrounding area.

“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,” said Darrell Denny, Executive Vice President for Emerald Exposition’s Sports Group.

He added, “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 venue,s 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.”

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