Politics cited in trade show’s move from Utah to Colorado

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2017, file photo, people attend the Outdoor Retailer show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Organizers announced Thursday, July 6, 2017, that the show will be held in Denver starting in 2018. The retailers are leaving Utah after 20 years because of political differences with Utah leaders, including their opposition to the new Bears Ears National Monument. | AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News

DENVER (AP) — An announcement that Denver is the new home for the nation’s largest outdoor recreation trade show underscored an important aspect of modern business — politics matter.

The Outdoor Retailer trade show — actually two trade shows a year — confirmed Thursday that it is leaving Utah after 20 years and decamping east to Denver.

The change comes not because Denver has a bigger airport or extended a financial incentive. Organizers who made the announcement Thursday were frank that the reason they chose to move from Salt Lake City to Denver, starting in 2018, was because Colorado is more “progressive” and has a better “culture” for the industry.

FILE – In this Aug. 4, 2016, file photo, people attend the Outdoor Retailer show, in Salt Lake City. Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, that he will remind organizers of an outdoor trade show considering leaving Utah partly over GOP policies on public lands that it’s been a “blessing” for them to have Salt Lake City as a host for the last two decades and it’s helped the expo grow significantly. | AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News

Show organizers said in February that they were leaving Utah for a new long-term home because of Republican state leaders’ opposition to the new Bears Ears National Monument and other public land policies.

“We chose Denver because of Colorado’s long-term commitment to protecting and nurturing public lands,” said Marisa Nicholson, director of the Outdoor Retailer trade show.

The show had considered leaving Utah in the past over philosophical differences. It finally did after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution calling on federal officials to rescind the monument that President Barack Obama designated on 1.3 million acres of land in southeastern Utah considered sacred to Native American tribes.

The show was under contract to host two shows in 2018 in Utah, but organizers had already said they were considering other options for next year.

The organization’s biannual events attracted an estimated $45 million in annual direct spending to Utah.

Outdoor Retailer’s producer, Emerald Expositions, announced in May that it had acquired a major ski-industry trade show held each January in Denver, the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show. That will continue, giving Denver three major outdoor trade conventions each year, in January, July and November.

The business boost comes in large part because of Colorado’s political culture, said Pete Maysmith, head of Conservation Colorado, an environmental advocacy group that did not participate in negotiations but attended Thursday’s announcement.

He said Utah’s politicians hurt their state’s bottom line by taking political stands unpopular with the outdoor industry.

“The industry made it very clear that that’s not a policy environment or a political environment where they want to have their show,” Maysmith said.

Of course, Colorado hasn’t always been on the winning side of businesses taking political stands. Three years ago, a major ammunition manufacturer, Magpul Industries, moved its headquarters from Colorado to Wyoming in protest of Colorado’s passage of an ammunition magazine limit.

Magpul last year was selected by the U.S. Marine Corps as its exclusive maker of ammunition magazines.

Written by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press. Brady McCombs, Associated Press writer in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Utahguns July 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Any AP news release, and the way it’s spun, has to be taken with a grain of salt.
    I think there’s more Playdough rec areas in Colorado anyway. Good riddance.
    …and Magpul continues to make excellent products.

  • DRT July 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • NoNonsense July 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I at least hope the city Denver at has the common courtesy to send Gov. Herbert a thank you basket.

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