The Outdoor Retailer’s popularity is good for Utah, but it is no secret the Salt Palace might be we are running out of space to accommodate the growing convention.
Scott Beck, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, said more importantly, Utah is missing out on other conventions because there is not a convention hotel downtown.
“While the hotel would be beneficial for the Outdoor Retailer it would be beneficial for every convention that comes to town,” Beck said.
Beck wants to grow Utah’s market share of conventions while keeping the conventions we already have.
Many major cities with convention hotels are built by a public and private partnership.
The mayors of Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City are on board, but not all state legislators.
Senate Bill 267 would have created a convention hotel, but it failed in the House by three votes. It was sponsored by Senator J. Stuart Adams and Representative Brad Wilson.
“It would have enable a public private partnership to create an additional 100,000 square feet of convention space adjacent to the Salt Palace which would have been attached to the new convention hotel,” Wilson said.
Critics of the bill did not want taxpayers to foot the bill for the hotel and said the government should not fund a business competing against private hotels.
Wilson said the critics did not understand the bill.
“These were tax dollars that we’re not getting now that would have been coming into the state because of additional conventions,” Wilson said.
Wilson said we need more conventions like the Outdoor Retailer because it puts Salt Lake. Plus conventions attract businesses to Utah and create jobs.
Beck said any convention brings lots of visitors who lighten the load on your pocketbook.
“They come here, they pay taxes, they go home,” Beck said of tourists. “So those taxes they pay decrease the local tax burden.”
Beck is confident talks will continue and that Utah might one day see a convention hotel.
Wilson said he and Adams plan on tweaking the bill and reintroducing it in the next legislative session.