Af­ter 18 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, Visit Den­ver books eco­nomic boost All the play­ers are sav­ing the off icial news for a news con­fer­ence with the gov­er­nor and mayor on Thurs­day, but it’s clear Den­ver has landed the cov­eted Out­door Re­tailer trade show.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Blevins

Af­ter nearly 18 months of in­ten­sive and har­ried ne­go­ti­a­tions, Visit Den­ver has booked the twice-a-year trade show in the city’s Colorado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter for five years, start­ing in Jan­uary 2018, sev­eral sources fa­mil­iar with the deal con­firmed this week. It does not in­clude the In­ter­bike trade show, the con­ti­nent’s largest bike gath­er­ing, said the sources, who asked not to be named.

The Out­door Re­tailer trade show owner, the pub­licly traded Emer­ald Ex­po­si­tions, is send­ing its top brass to Den­ver for Thurs­day’s news con­fer­ence with Den­ver Mayor Michael Han­cock, Colorado Gov. John Hick­en­looper and Luis Ben­itez, the head of the Colorado Out­door Recre­ation In­dus­try Of­fice.

No one in­volved in the ne­go­ti­a­tions would com­ment openly on the pend­ing deal, cit­ing the an­nounce­ment set for Thurs­day at City Park.

Den­ver was a lead­ing con­tender to grab the Out­door Re­tailer trade shows, which bring to­gether out­door gear mak­ers, shop own­ers and out­door me­dia in a pair of four­day gath­er­ings that have evolved be­yond a busi­ness-to-busi­ness trade show into bian­nual con­fabs fea­tur­ing po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions, sem­i­nars and high­lights of emerg­ing trends and is­sues.

Emer­ald and its show part­ner, Boul­der’s Out­door In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, an­nounced this year they were pulling the win­ter and sum­mer Out­door Re­tailer trade shows out of their 21-year home in Salt Lake City, cit­ing Utah po­lit­i­cal ef­forts to down­size re­cent na­tional mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions, specif­i­cally the 1.35 mil­lion-acre Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment cre­ated by the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion in De­cem­ber 2016. Colorado politi­cians joined the state’s out­door in­dus­try lead­ers in lob­by­ing Emer­ald and OIA, cit­ing the state’s ro­bust out­door econ­omy and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for pub­lic lands.

That left Visit Den­ver with the mon­u­men­tal task of shuf­fling al­ready booked trade shows in the busy sum­mer months to make room for Out­door Re­tailer’s sum­mer and win­ter shows. In re­cent years, those shows drew a com­bined 45,000 at­ten­dees who con­trib­uted an es­ti­mated $45 mil­lion a year to the Salt Lake City econ­omy.

Visit Den­ver typ­i­cally books large con­ven­tions sev­eral years out. It was no small feat to ne­go­ti­ate the right dates and rates for a show that needs that much space — it will fill, twice a year, the Colorado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter’s 584,000square feet of ex­hi­bi­tion space and pos­si­bly use the Na­tional Western Com­plex in fu­ture years. The group prob­a­bly had to move al­ready-booked con­ven­tions to make room for Out­door Re­tailer.

In May, Emer­ald an­nounced it was spend­ing $16.7 mil­lion for the SnowS­ports In­dus­tries Amer­ica Snow Show, the largest win­ter-sports gath­er­ing in the coun­try. The Snow Show moved from Las Ve­gas to Den­ver in 2011 and was booked in the Colorado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter through 2030. The move by Emer­ald, which is owned by Toronto pri­vate eq­uity firm Onex Corp. and in April har­vested more than $264 mil­lion in an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing, paved the way for Out­door Re­tailer to move to Den­ver. The ac­qui­si­tion will cre­ate a com­bined “Out­door Re­tailer Snow Show pre­sented by SIA and OIA” in Den­ver in Jan­uary 2018.

The deal calls for a June Sum­mer Out­door Re­tailer trade show and the com­bined OR-SIA win­ter show.

But wait. The trum­peted an­nounce­ment that Out­door Re­tailer was bail­ing on Utah noted that the move would come af­ter the 2018 win­ter and sum­mer shows in Salt Lake’s sprawl­ing Salt Palace Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. Emer­ald had a con­tract with Salt Lake City’s con­ven­tion book­ers through 2018.

Visit Salt Lake reached an agree­ment with Emer­ald over an early de­par­ture, mean­ing the July 2017 Sum­mer Out­door Re­tailer show would be the fi­nal one in a 22-year run in Salt Lake City. The city twice ex­panded its Salt Palace Con­ven­tion Cen­ter to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing Out­door Re­tailer trade shows.

“I’m sad to see Out­door Re­tailer leave our area, but I have no doubt that our fu­ture as a con­ven­tion and meet­ings des­ti­na­tion is bright,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McA­dams in a state­ment re­leased by Visit Salt Lake. “Salt Lake val­ues the out­door in­dus­try and the pub­lic lands that pro­vide its recre­ation foun­da­tion. Our en­vi­ron­men­tal record will serve us well as we pro­mote the area to both new and re­peat vis­i­tors and clients. We will con­tinue to em­pha­size the value of a vi­brant con­ven­tion and vis­i­tor pres­ence to our econ­omy.”

The ar­rival of Out­door Re­tailer buoys Colorado’s grow­ing out­door in­dus­try. Its lead­ers hope the ar­rival of the trade show will lure out­door busi­nesses to the state, just as the shows did for Utah’s Og­den, which has be­come an out­door hub in re­cent years thanks in large part to the pres­ence of Out­door Re­tailer.

Rick Bowmer, As­so­ci­ated Press file

Peo­ple at­tend the Out­door Re­tailer trade show at the Salt Palace Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Jan­uary. There will be just one more show in Utah. Then it is com­ing to Den­ver and the Colorado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Jan­uary 2018.

Rick Bowmer, The As­so­ci­ated Press

The Back­coun­try Bed Duo from Sierra De­signs is shown at the Out­door Re­tailer’s sum­mer show in 2014 in Salt Lake City.

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