Salt Lake City, UT – Nielsen Expositions will keep its Outdoor Retailer (OR) Summer and Winter Markets in its long-running home in Salt Lake City through 2016 even though the growing shows have been pushing the limits of the city’s hotel and exhibit capacity.
The show’s contract was due to expire after the 2014 event, but Nielsen and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) hammered out a deal with state and local officials that will make various facilities used for the 2012 Winter Olympics available to OR participants.
The details of the arrangement were not immediately available, but the Salt Lake Tribune reported city tourism officials had agreed to provide a 150,000 square foot tent at no cost for outdoor exhibits at the Salt Palace Convention Center during the summer show.
Kenji Haroutunian, vice president of the Nielsen Expo Outdoor Group and OR show director, said the extension was a positive step that would satisfy show participants who have been coming to Salt Lake City since 1996. The 2011 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ranked No. 34 on TSE’s Gold 100. The show attracted 25,387 professional attendees, 1,088 exhibitors and covered 455,808 net square feet (nsf). Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, ranked 42nd on the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Gold 100, had nearly 20,000 attendees, 844 exhibiting companies and 359,541 nsf in 2011. The two events are estimated to generate $40 million in revenue to the Utah economy.
But the success of OR has raised the possibility the show will have to leave Salt Lake City to find a larger venue. The Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace offers 515,000 square feet of prime exhibit space and is ranked No. 25 on the TSE World’s Top Convention Centers roster. Potential new host venues include the larger Colorado Convention Center in Denver plus Anaheim, Las Vegas and Orlando. The Outdoor Industry Association is based in Boulder, CO, a short distance from Denver.
Haroutunian said despite the warm feeling OR exhibitors and attendees have for Salt Lake City, Nielsen would continue to explore its options and discuss the shows’ long-term prospects with its industry stakeholders. “Discussions about longer term solutions beyond 2016 are still ongoing with Salt Lake and other potential host cities,” he said. “We understand everyone is anxious for a longer-term decision, but making sure the show has a home that fits the needs of the industry is hugely important. The extension period will help us make sure we get it right.”
Utah’s efforts to keep OR in Salt Lake City go beyond exhibit space and heads in beds. Gov. Gary Herbert used the January 23 opening of OR Winter Market to announce a new statewide strategy to maintain and improve the state’s reputation as a destination for the outdoor enthusiasts that OR serves.
The State of Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision policy was made up of 40 recommendations in seven areas of focus aimed at making Utah attractive to visitors and the outdoor industry.
The OIA had inserted itself into state policy by opposing a lawsuit filed by Herbert challenging federal jurisdiction over thousands of acres of undeveloped land with the goal of opening them up to off-road vehicles. The association indicated it would be less inclined to keep OR in Utah unless Herbert modified his approach to land use.
“Gov. Herbert’s vision is more than just a vision for outdoor recreation in Utah – it is an economic strategy that can benefit every state in the nation,” Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the OIA, said at the announcement news conference. “More importantly, the vision is just the beginning of what we can accomplish when we find common ground.”
Herbert’s plan did not address the off-road issue with Washington; however it called for conservation of Utah’s land and fresh-air resources as well as the establishment of an “office of outdoor recreation” headed by an appointed director who would be in charge of implementing the strategy.
Hugelmeyer tipped his hat to Herbert for “his commitment to turn this vision into a reality,” an indication that any decision to move OR will be based on the basics of exhibit space and hotel inventory.