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Salt Lake Is Moving On From Outdoor Retailer Show Loss

Nicole Nixon / KUER

Across the street from the Salt Palace Convention Center, Ed Primosic is pretty much over the Outdoor Retailer shows. He and his wife Kris own the Blue Iguana Mexican restaurant.

“We’ll certainly miss Outdoor,” Primosic said. “They were really good to us; they were good for business downtown. We hope they come back, but life goes on."

Primosic isn’t worried about a hit to business now that the OR show has left. Last week, while the global doTerra convention was in town, the Blue Iguana served around 900 people a day.

“We’ve got doTerra, (Young Living) Essential Oils, Comic Con,” he said, listing events that help boost business.

Primosic said as conventions at the Salt Palace have grown year-to-year, so have sales at the Blue Iguana. “We’re clipping along better than we ever have,” he said.  

After the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show announced it was leaving Salt Lake City, many residents and business owners were left wondering, “what’s next?” 

While the loss of the twice-yearly OR show and its $45 million impact still stings for many, convention industry leaders and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams are also feeling optimistic.

“Losing two big shows like the OR shows certainly hurts,” McAdams said at a press conference Tuesday. “We hope that they’ll come back, and we’re going to work to replace the holes that that leaves in the schedule in the meantime.”

Scott Beck, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, notes that the summer OR show wasn’t even the largest in Utah. That title belongs to doTerra’s global convention. Last week, the doTerra show brought more than 30,000 people to downtown Salt Lake City.

“At this point we feel the energy, and with such great success with clients like doTerra, we think the industry looks very bright for the future,” said Beck.

Salt Lake County is still moving ahead with plans to build a 700-800 room convention hotel, which Beck and McAdams say will help lure a large replacement for the OR shows.

The city, state and county have promised around $25 million in tax incentives for the hotel, which is expected to cost around $300 million. McAdams says the county is negotiating with a developer, and parties are scoping out locations surrounding the Salt Palace.  

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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