Outdoor Retailer Flexes Its Political Muscle

DANICA TORMOHLEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE
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Salt Lake City, UT – With a potential move out of Salt Lake City already on the table, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Board of Directors met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on August 1 and threatened to pull the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets if the state doesn’t change its position on its public lands policy. At issue is the governor’s lawsuit challenging the federal government over jurisdiction of the federal public lands and some road claims within national parks, monuments and wilderness areas. The association opposes Utah’s effort to open thousands of dirt paths across public lands to motor vehicles.

“We are encouraged that Gov. Herbert committed to engage with the outdoor industry to create a shared vision of how the State of Utah can pursue public land policies that support the outdoor industry and the National Outdoor Recreation System upon which the health of Utah’s economy and our industry depend,” according to a statement issued by the OIA board. “We expect that the governor’s administration will pursue this collaboration with the outdoor industry within the next 30 days, and that the governor’s administration will provide specific recommendations by Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013.”

The meeting between the OIA Board and Gov. Herbert was held on the eve of the 2012 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which was held August 1-5 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, ranked #32 on TSE’s Gold 100 in 2011, attracted 21,465 professional attendees and 1,033 exhibiting companies, covering 439,944 nsf in 2010. The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, ranked #46 on TSE’s Gold 100 in 2011, attracted 20,721 professional attendees and 453 exhibiting companies, covering 343,072 nsf in 2010. The two events are estimated to generate $40 million in revenue to the Utah economy.

Outdoor Retailer (OR), owned by Nielsen Expositions and endorsed and sponsored by OIA, has been held in Salt Lake City since 1996. Its contract with Salt Palace Convention Center is set to expire after the 2014 Summer Market. Earlier this year, Outdoor Retailer and OIA announced plans to launch the “Collective Voice” project in order to poll the industry and facilitate discussion on the best location for future trade shows as the markets have outgrown the facilities in Salt Lake City. The other cities being reviewed as possible replacements include Denver, Las Vegas, Anaheim, CA, and Orlando, FL.

“We’ve done surveys of the OR audience for years and have even posted the results on our web site for the whole industry to see,” said Kenji Haroutunian, vice president for Nielsen Expositions and OR show director. “Though the surveys are extremely helpful, the Collective Voice project adds an important new element to the process by giving every industry stakeholder a voice. This way, a dialog can develop amongst industry leaders and a thoughtful, inclusive and open process can drive the resulting decisions that will determine the future success of the OR shows.”

That decision may now be impacted by Gov. Herbert’s response. “Regarding the future of Outdoor Retailer, OIA, in partnership with owners Nielsen Expositions, is continuing productive conversations about the logistical needs of the trade show and greatly appreciates efforts to meet our challenges,” according to the statement. “While not the deciding factor in a location decision, the political climate in a host state is one of many elements that will be considered. We remain open to finding solutions with Utah’s leadership that improve collaboration and ensure the continued growth and success of the state’s expanding outdoor recreation business community.”

In late August, three of the governor’s top aides met with OIA at its headquarters in Boulder, CO, to discuss the “timing and process for the governor to deliver his vision for outdoor recreation in Utah,” said Avery Stonich, communications manager, OIA. “His staff is planning to share this vision by Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January.”

Reach Avery
at (303) 638-1586 or
astonich@outdoorindustry.org, Kenji at (949) 226-5794 or kenji.haroutunian@nielsen.com