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Before the Outdoor Retailer convention announced it is leaving Utah over the state's public lands policies, Salt Lake City was a top contender to host a third outdoor industry trade show. Now the organizers behind the Interbike cycling exhibition have removed Salt Lake City from consideration as they shop for a new host city after spending 17 years in Las Vegas.
Emerald Exhibitions, which owns both Outdoor Retailer and Interbike, said it is in "lockstep" with outdoor industry leaders who have argued Utah politicians are hostile to public lands that the industry depends on. Following a tense phone call between Gov. Gary Herbert and industry representatives Thursday, Emerald Expositions announced it would not renew its contract for the massive Outdoor Retailer shows in Salt Lake City, where it has been held for two decades. On top of that, it would not move Interbike to Utah.
Salt Lake City's bid to host Interbike apparently was given serious consideration. A survey sent to the cycling show's participants in December asked them to rank four prospective cities: Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver and Anaheim, confirmed Justin Gottlieb, Interbike spokesman.
Although not every factor was presented, most dealers were "leaning" toward Salt Lake City and Denver, said Pat Hus, Interbike vice president.
The Interbike show gathers 20,000 to 23,000 attendees annually, with each guest spending about $1,000 in the host city, Hus said. That compares closely to Outdoor Retailer's Winter Market, which brought 22,000 people and $20 million to Salt Lake City in January.
Salt Lake City submitted a proposal to host Interbike about three and a half years ago, said Visit Salt Lake director Scott Beck, but the convention stayed in Las Vegas. They received another request for a proposal in January and were getting ready to submit it when Emerald Expositions made its announcement Thursday.
"We felt very strong as we did three and a half years ago," Beck said. "In terms of a bicycle community and the commitments that our city and our region is making to bicycle as a mode of transportation... that was positive. And we have some of the best mountain biking in the world here in the Wasatch."
Las Vegas, however, has installed a BMX course and a mountain biking course for the Interbike show, Beck said.
Some companies said they would withdraw from Interbike if it were to be held in Salt Lake City, Hus said. Among them was GU Energy, a sports nutrition company based in Berkeley, Calif. GU Energy, this week, added its name to a list of outdoor businesses urging Outdoor Retailer to leave Utah and said it would boycott other conventions here.
"We are also making the commitment to not attend any tradeshow, Interbike included, that moves to Utah while its public policy remains inimical to our core values," the company wrote in a news statement.