Outdoor Retailer returning to Salt Lake City in 2023

Mar 23, 2022, 11:19 AM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 9:55 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Outdoor Retailer is returning to Utah’s capital after leaving for Denver in 2018.

The trade show, which generates tens of millions of dollars in local economic impact and draws an estimated 30,000 attendees to its two events, will be held in Salt Lake City from 2023 through 2025.

“After much deliberation and input from all sides, we’ve decided the best move for Outdoor Retailer is to return to our basecamp. We’re heading back to Salt Lake City and County to the place we grew up and where our industry matured into the dynamic and powerful community it is today.”

The twice-a-year event was staged in Salt Lake City from 1996 until the group moved to Denver five years ago.

During its time in Salt Lake, it became the city’s largest trade show. At its peak, there were more than 29,000 attendees who strolled more than a million square feet of exhibit space according to Visit Salt Lake.

Outdoor Retailer generated more than $565 million in direct spending and another $52 million in state and local taxes.

Visit Salt Lake expected those numbers to add an additional 1,000 hotel rooms in the Downtown area with the completion of the Hyatt Regency Salt Lake convention center hotel and the new Element and Le Meridian hotels this fall.

“Salt Lake is the perfect place to host Outdoor Retailer. Home to many brands, exhibitors, and trade show suppliers, we boast unparalleled access to our outdoor testing grounds, a walkable downtown, a new airport, convention hotel and world-class hotels, brewpubs, bars, and cafes,” said Kaitlin Eskelson, President & CEO of Visit Salt Lake. “We heartily welcome them back to Utah’s great urban basecamp where the distance to demo days is measured in minutes and you can enjoy astounding four season outdoor adventure.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “I’m thrilled Outdoor Retailer is returning to Salt Lake County. They will again be an economic anchor for our county and bring increased revenue and job growth.” She added, “I agree with those seeking to protect Utah’s precious natural resources and in the five years since Outdoor Retailer left, Salt Lake County has led in environmental protection and conservation. We welcome Outdoor Retailer’s return and its partnership to benefit our broader community.”

Companies like Patagonia announced in 2017 that they would boycott the show following state leaders’ opposition to Bears Ears National Monument and support to shrink the monument’s size, among other disputes surrounding the use of public lands.

Paul Edwards, deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. Gary Herbert said at the time the show’s decision to leave Utah perpetuated “a false narrative” about Utah’s value of public lands and “a political agenda rather than reason or merit,” which seemed to capture the show’s decision-making.

Outdoor Retailer officials say they have not seen the change they hoped for, but said they “will push back, not pull back.”

Ben Steele, executive vice president and chief customer officer for REI said, “We are very disappointed by Emerald’s decision to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show out of Colorado and back to Utah in January 2023 despite the strong objections of the co-op and other industry leaders.”

He accused elected officials in Utah of repeatedly refusing to protect and undermine “duly designated national monuments and natural treasures, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante.”

His statement ended with, “As we made clear in February, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the state so long as Utah’s leaders persist in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them. We remain committed to our employees, members, vendors, and communities in the state.”

However, Outdoor Retailer cited Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and the city’s “tremendous investments in clean energy and a strong commitment to public lands” as “a real turning point in our recent negotiations.”

“We welcome back our friends with Outdoor Retailer and recognize their importance to Salt Lake City. We have made great improvements including the $4.2 billion airport and the new TRAX light rail airport station — connecting visitors with more than 200 restaurants and bars, a thriving arts scene, and our vibrant downtown atmosphere,” Mendenhall said.

“The biannual Outdoor Retailer events are not only a much-appreciated economic boon for our community, but a great reflection on what makes our region, and the rest of the state, truly unique, Mendenhall added. “We share the same enthusiasm, appreciation, and reverence for these great natural assets as the companies that make their way to our city to participate in Outdoor Retailer, and we welcome them back with open arms. We’re doing so much more than welcoming back a convention, we’re uniting our momentum to make change.”

Outdoor Retailer added a January survey of more than 1,500 attendees and over 2,000 exhibitor responses, along with feedback and conversations over recent months that indicated “the majority of the industry wanted” the move back to Utah.

The Associated Press reported in February that an environmental conservation group and two dozen outdoor recreation companies, including Patagonia, REI and The North Face, would boycott the trade show if moved back to Salt Lake City.

The first event in Utah will be in January for the group’s snow show; Outdoor Retailer also holds a summer event in June.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Officer Alondra Zavala with the West Jordan Police Department. (Lauren Steinbrecher/KSL TV)...
Lauren Steinbrecher

West Jordan police taking on nation-wide initiative to recruit women to force

The West Jordan Police Department is taking on a nation-wide initiative to recruit more women to join the police force. The goal: 30% by the year 2030.
1 day ago
Dylan Murphy was shot and killed by police after his family called for help with his mental health....
Ashley Moser

Family questions calling 9-1-1 for mental health crisis after Sandy police shoot and kill brother

The family of Dylan Murphy, 33, is questioning if they should have called 9-1-1 for help with their brother’s mental health crisis.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City's Mazza restaurant is a finalist for the James Beard Award. (Jack Grimm/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Salt Lake’s Mazza named a finalist for prestigious restaurant award

Ali Sabbah has made a career out of serving Middle Eastern food at his Mazza restaurant in the 15th and 15th neighborhood of Salt Lake City.
1 day ago
Two people North Park police say are connected to a bomb threat in a Walmart on Friday, March 31, 2...
Gabrielle Shiozawa

Police seek help identifying 2 accused of making bomb threat at North Logan Walmart

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying two young men they believe made a bomb threat at the North Logan Walmart, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of store patrons and workers Friday afternoon.
1 day ago
Kay and Larry Woodcock (Pool photo)...
Lauren Steinbrecher

JJ Vallow’s grandparents fight claim they shouldn’t be allowed to watch Lori Vallow Daybell trial

The grandparents of Joshua JJ Vallow are asking an Idaho judge to allow them to sit in court and appoint them to represent the murdered 7-year-old, on the eve of the trial for JJ’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell.
1 day ago
Snow covers canyon road completely...
Jed Boal

UDOT fights to keep roads open as avalanche danger continues into April

Greg Gagne, an avalanche forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said the Wasatch mountains will continue to see elevated avalanche danger throughout the weekend, and rising danger early next week when then next storm moves in Sunday night.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
Outdoor Retailer returning to Salt Lake City in 2023