SIA’s deal to sell the Snow Show to Emerald Expositions, the parent of Outdoor Retailer, positions Denver in a prime position to become the next home to a combined winter show as well as Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

In January 2017, SIA signed a 10-year extension with the Colorado Convention Center to remain in Denver through at least 2030. The deal with Emerald Expositions would negate a non-compete clause that’s part of SIA’s contract that precluded Denver from hosting a show with a large, overlapping audience in the months surrounding the late January Snow Show. News of the sale also comes as reports surfaced that Denver was among the three finalists for land the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer show.

Finally, outside of Las Vegas, Denver appears to have the capacity to handle the crowds. The twice-yearly trade show requires about 1 million square feet of meeting space as well as sufficient housing. The January Snow Show attracted over 500 exhibitors and 18,000 visitors. The recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market attracted 1,075 brands and about 20,000 attendees.

If SIA members approve the deal, the “Outdoor Retailer Snow Show” will debut in January 2018 in Denver. Future Outdoor Retailer shows in the Colorado Convention Center are still under negotiation.

Several cities, including Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Chicago, Indianapolis and Portland, have also reportedly put in bids to host the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer trade show. The bids were due by March 31. A final decision from Emerald is expected within a month.

Outdoor Retailer  has grown from 5,000 people at the first show in Salt Lake City in 1996 to about 29,000 last summer. It attracted an estimated $45 million in annual direct spending to Utah during the two shows held each year. The show’s Summer Market will be in Salt Lake City this July as scheduled.

News of the potential sale of the Snow Show was widely circulated in a 16-page letter to SIA’s more than 1,000 members seeking approval of the sale. Both SIA and Emerald Expositions declined comment on the deal. The two organizations have discussed the idea of merging the shows before.

According to documents obtained by SGB Media, the purchase price for the proposed sale is $16.7 million. The price may be adjusted based on prepaid expenses and cash collected by SIA prior to the sale.

A meeting will be held May 24 at SIA offices in Park City. Approval of the sale requires the affirmative vote of at least a majority of the votes of all regular members present in person or by proxy at the special meeting.

According to the documents, the Board of Directors of SIA has unanimously approved a sale.

“SIA has been presented with an incredible opportunity,” wrote SIA in its note to members. “Emerald Expositions has come forward with a viable offer to purchase the Snow Show and the SIA Board of Directors is unanimously in favor of such a sale. Given that SIA has successfully been in the tradeshow business for the last 50 years, this was a decision that did not come lightly. However, after much discussion and debate, the Board of Directors felt strongly that Emerald would be a good steward for the Snow Show.”

SIA wrote that Emerald understands the business needs of Snow Show exhibitors and attendees. The letter stated, “Emerald not only understands the value that the Snow Show currently delivers to the winter industry, but also understands the need to enhance the value back to the exhibitors and attendees, while helping the show flourish overall.”

The letter further noted that Emerald is positioned to support a combined winter show to offer wide benefits of the industry. SIA noted that as has been widely discussed, the outdoor and snow sports industries “have much in common,” including the sharing of retailers, reps, manufacturing resources, supply chain management, sustainability practices, and the end consumer.

SIA wrote, “A combined show means a more effective platform for our members to do business and a greater return on their tradeshow investment. This also means one less winter tradeshow in an increasingly congested tradeshow landscape.”

Emerald Expositions announced in February that they would move the shows from Salt Lake City in protest of the state’s policies on public lands. Several companies told organizers they would skip the summer show over the public lands issue. The decision to exit Utah followed an unproductive meeting between Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert and outdoor industry executives. The group wanted the governor to reverse his call for President Trump to rescind the new Bears Ears National Monument.

The not-for-profit SIA’s 63-year-old Snow Show moved from Vegas to Denver in 2010.

If selected, Denver would host the winter and summer Outdoor Retailer trade shows at the Colorado Convention Center and the National Western Complex. Colorado State University, located in Ft. Collins, CO, is also hoping to get involved by offering academic lectures and events. Denver’s bid also featured Colorado’s commitment to fostering outdoor businesses and protecting public lands.

For its part, SIA will have a seat on the show planning committee to position itself as a “major supporter” of the combined show. SIA also plans to bring “new initiatives and tools to help grow our members business,” including research, education, participation, consumer outreach and retail support.

“Should there be member approval of the sale, SIA staff will present the board with a road map and a three year strategic plan for the organization in late July,” SIA wrote.

The letter notes that the board has been exploring opportunities for the Snow Show since fall 2016, including collaboration and/or sale of the show. SIA was engaged in discussions with the two leading tradeshow producers in the U.S. prior to its agreement with Emerald Expositions.

Overall, Emerald Expositions, which went public earlier this year, operates more than 50 trade shows, including 31 of the top 250 trade shows in the country, as well as numerous other events. In the active-lifestyle space, its shows include Outdoor Retailer, Surf Expo, Interbike, Imprinted Sportswear Shows (ISS) Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show, Sports and Swim Collective and Active Collective Shows.

Photo courtesy SIA