Salt Palace Convention Center Considers Expansion

Salt Palace Convention Center Considers Expansion

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Keith McCord ReportingSome serious talk is going on about expanding the Salt Palace Convention Center. Wasn't it recently expanded, you ask? Yes it was, but more space is needed.

For the last couple years, for the Summer Outdoor Retailers Show, they had to put up a huge tent in the parking lot to handle the overflow -- at a cost of $500,000 dollars! The summer retailer show is the largest convention that comes here, so when convention organizers say we need more room, Utah listens!

It's Salt Lake's largest convention-- hundreds of outdoor product manufacturers from all over the world converge here each summer, to show off what's new and to sell their items to sporting goods stores and other retailers.

It takes more than 369,000 square feet of exhibit space and it's not enough.

Nancy Workman, Mayor of Salt Lake County: "And they're saying, well what can you offer us? It's got to get better than it is right now. Well we realize that, so we're getting busy."

The Summer Outdoor Show generates nearly 40-million dollars in revenues to the Salt Lake economy. That fact alone makes the idea of possibly losing the convention a huge concern.

Jason Mathis, Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau: "It's a pretty important and pretty urgent thing to get accomplished . We're trying to find a solution as soon as possible; they'll be meeting again in august, and we're hoping to have something worked out before they come back."

Salt Lake City, County and the state are all working together to come up with an expansion plan-- that is, how to pay for it. County Mayor Nancy Workman says the county can put up a half a million now to get the ball rolling.

Nancy Workman: "And we're asking everyone else to partner up to get minimum amount down right now to keep them here until we can figure out a way to build this expansion onto the Salt Palace to keep them here permanently."

For now the convention center in its current configuration will host the upcoming summer show in August, and the companion Winter show next January. As far as future convention bookings, the Outdoor Retailers will make a decision later this summer.

Jason Mathis: “They're basically saying, ‘We love Salt Lake, this a city that has appreciated us, that has been gracious and a terrific host, we are just outgrowing the Salt Palace and we need to see where the city is going in terms of an expanded convention center.’"

Besides the expansion issue, the Outdoor Industry Association is currently conducting a survey of all the manufacturers and groups who have attended this convention, asking their opinions on how well they like it here, and whether they'd like to see it go to another city. Results of that survey will be released later in the summer

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