Outdoor Retailer groups assess Salt Lake, convention rivals
Events • Each city has pluses and minuses for staging big shows.
Published: April 25, 2012 08:06PM
Updated: April 25, 2012 08:06PM

Outdoor Retailers and the Outdoor Industry Association are asking stakeholders to rate convention centers as the trade groups decide where future shows will be staged.

The groups are conducting surveys at at www.outdoorretailer.com/collective-voice on whether to continue presenting shows in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace or to move events to convention centers in Las Vegas, Denver, Anaheim, Calif., or Orlando, Fla. The Salt Palace has been booked until the end of 2014.

Here’s the groups’ assessments:

Salt Lake City • The location is suitable if [it is decided] to curtail growth and “dramatically restrict attendance and new exhibitors” or the city, county and state agree to significantly expand the Salt Palace, “as well as add hotel rooms and other needed transportation infrastructure.”

Advantages are nearby mountains, trails, lakes and rivers that add to participants’ recreational experiences, and the city’s willingness to secure other venues for additional space.

Disadvantages include the convention center’s 510,600 square feet of “somewhat fragmented” exhibit space; limited hotel rooms, taxi service and restaurants; difficulties at the airport in getting direct flights [to and] from the East Coast and to international connections; and some anti-environmental political stands that have not been consistent with goals of the outdoor industry.

Denver • The Colorado Convention Center’s 584,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space is somewhat limited, but the facility is surrounded by a large metropolitan area with a variety of restaurants and entertainment options.

Pros are a number of outdoor locations that would be available for summer and winter shows. Cons are insufficient hotel space near the center, the airport is 25 miles away and train service is not scheduled to be completed until 2016.

Las Vegas •The city has three convention centers that could work, numerous hotels and restaurants, and the airport can accommodate international and domestic flights, but its atmosphere may not be a good cultural fit “with the ethos of the outdoor industry.”

The Las Vegas Convention Center is spacious, with 443,838 square feet of contiguous space, plus nearly 2 million square feet of exhibit space spread over four linked buildings.

The Mandalay Bay Convention Center has 934,731 square feet of space and plenty of meeting space, but split -level exhibit halls and large columns could be a detriment to large exhibit booths.

The Sands Exposition Center has 935,000 square feet of space, is attached to two major hotels, the Venetian and Palazzo, but the venue has split-level exhibition halls and a low ceiling in the lower hall.

Anaheim • The convention center has 813,607 square feet of space over two floors, which must be expanded to accommodate the groups’ need for 1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space.

The city has numerous nearby hotels and restaurants, and several airports that can handle a wide assortment of international flights. But there’s a lack of outdoor exhibition space, and an overlap of time when the summer show is staged and the peak Disneyland vacation season.

Orlando • The convention center is large and modern, but it’s a difficult location to get to from the West Coast; there are few locations for outdoor demonstrations, and August “is a miserably hot and humid time.”

Still, the city has numerous hotels and restaurants, and the convention center is close to the airport, which can handle a wide assortment of international flights. But securing hotel blocks of rooms during the peak family tourist season at Walt Disney World could be difficult.