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Salt Lake City — ruled out for bids on Outdoor Retailer — submits bid for Outdoor Retailer

First Published      Last Updated Apr 20 2017 09:31 pm


Trade shows » Visit Salt Lake makes unsolicited pitch to keep shows that generated $45M annually.

Might as well try.

Visit Salt Lake submitted an unsolicited bid Thursday to Emerald Expositions, hoping to persuade the owner of Outdoor Retailer to reconsider its decision not to keep the $45 million-a-year trade shows in their longtime home because of state policies regarding Bear Ears National Monument and public-land ownership.

Emerald "never invited us to respond to its request for proposal," Visit Salt Lake President and CEO Scott Beck said, "but we felt an obligation, on some level, on behalf of this community which has been a destination partner of Outdoor Retailer for 20 years."




"We did what people expect us to do," Beck added. "We built a business case for why we're the best destination for these trade shows, just like we do for a lot of [shows]."

What remains to be seen is whether that's enough to change the minds of the shows' owner and the outdoor-recreation companies that led the rebellion against the state's positions.

Emerald Expositions' spokeswoman Kate Lowery said only that "the RFP [request for proposal] process is confidential, and we are not able to comment specifically on submissions or details around the process."

It looks like an uphill climb.

To succeed, Visit Salt Lake must overcome the objections of the Outdoor Industry Association and big companies such as Patagonia, The North Face and REI, which said Gov. Gary Herbert and the state's Republican congressional delegation promoted land-use policies detrimental to outdoor recreation interests.

Although Utah's support for the extraction and grazing industries prompted previous proposals to move Outdoor Retailer out of the state, the effort coalesced this year over two main issues:

• State support for returning Bears Ears to Utah control. In December, President Barack Obama declared as Bear Ears National Monument an area of 1.8 million acres in San Juan County.

• State litigation to turn control of federal public land in Utah over to the state.

"Salt Lake City has been hospitable to Outdoor Retailer and our industry for the past 20 years," Lowery said in February, when Emerald Exposition ruled out Salt Lake City for future bids to host the twice-annual trade show and another lucrative convention, Interbike. "But we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home."

Still, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams fully supported taking another shot at getting the trade show.

"Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have a great track record of public-lands stewardship here along the Wasatch Front, and our residents value public lands, recreation and access," said McAdams, a member of Visit Salt Lake's executive board, which gave the go-ahead for the bid Thursday.

"We're a good fit with the public lands ethic associated with the Outdoor Retailer markets," he added, "and we would hope that they would take that into consideration."

Beck said that although he never saw the actual RFP, he knows what information the owners wanted to see from bidders — just as he knows that many of the show's 50,000 attendees like coming to Salt Lake City and its environs each year, appreciating the big-city feel near mountains and lakes.

"We submitted a bid looking to be a future site for 10 years," he said, with renewals expected to come up every three years within that span.

"Our bid was one where we know the lay of the land well," Beck added. "We knew what they were looking for and presented the best business case we could."

mikeg@sltrib.com

 

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