If you don't get out much or are brain dead, you may be unaware that for four days twice a year the city receives a huge infusion of money as thousands of merchants of skis, hiking sticks, stout shoes, GPS units, lady pee spouts and anything else that supports the ever-growing outdoor-recreation lifestyle gather in Salt Lake City.
It's the biggest convention in town and pumps about $40 million into the local economy every year.
Outdoor Retailer released a poll of its members this week giving insight into an impending decision that obviously will have a staggering impact on Salt Lake's economy.
Apparently, this town ain't big enough for the OR folks.
"We are a size 10 foot trying to fit into a size 8 shoe in all aspects," said Lori Herrera, executive vice president of Outdoor Industry Association. "Through the vetting process and stakeholder feedback we know, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is also clear that to continue to meet the physical needs of the show in Salt Lake City, we must have the support of the community and local and state elected officials."
Despite clumsy shoe-metaphor, this is basically a hold up note. Build it or we will go — to Denver.
This newest statement undercuts the high-ground stand the retailers took last summer when they made national news by demanding Gov. Gary Herbert put together a rational land policy to preserve wildlands. Save the land or we will go has a much better ring to it, even if it's also based on economics—if you sell equipment to explore the outback, you've got to have some outback left.
Until then, Herbert, Utah's weathervane of a governor, was happily snapping in the howling wind from the right—including a movement led by Rep. Ken Ivory to takeover nearly all federal land that isn't already a national park. Herbert suddenly found himself between the capitalists of the outdoor industry and the even harder rock of Utah's radical right.
I write about the govenor's terrifying dilemma in my article "Across the Great Divide" in Salt Lake Magazine.
But now, the outdoor retailers appear to be downplaying in the environmental issue, referring to it only in passing:
"Utah Governor Gary Herbert agreed to develop a recreation vision for Utah, a positive step that if done right, would recognize the importance of balancing economic and public lands policies. A state's outdoor recreation vision and policy platform is not the deciding factor for the future location of the show, but it does create an attractive and healthy long-term environment for the industry."
That's a far cry from the battle cries of Salt Lake-based Black Diamond and other industry members who sincerely see Herbert's policies long-term economic disaster.
SLTrib's Mike Gorrell offers background to the OR survey here.