Could Outdoor Retailer return to Reno?

Reno had the show for nearly 10 years. It wants Outdoor Retailer back.

Long before Salt Lake City lost Outdoor Retailer, Reno lost it first. The Nevada city wants the show back, badly.

Reno, Nevada

Reno, Nevada. // Photo: Trevor Bexon

Nearly 20 years ago, Reno, Nevada, wanted desperately to win back the world’s biggest trade show for the booming “$4.4 billion outdoor industry.” The city had hosted the show from 1987 to 1996, when it lost it to Salt Lake City.

Reno officials were hoping that their promises of ample hotel rooms and an expanded convention center would bring back the show, and the $15 million it contributed to the local economy each year.

Now, the stakes are much, much higher.

On the heels of the Outdoor Industry Association’s reveal of this year’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Report in Washington, D.C. this past Tuesday, Reno officials will meet with Emerald Expositions Monday to vie for both Outdoor Retailer and Interbike, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Friday.

“We have to be on our A-game,” Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Phil DeLone told the Gazette-Journal. “We will only get one chance.”

Now, the estimated economic impact of Outdoor Retailer is somewhere between $40 and $50 million each year, depending on who you ask. And the outdoor industry’s estimated worth in 1999 is paltry in comparison to its value today. Now, the Outdoor Industry Association pegs the outdoor recreation economy at $887 billion.

That number reflects annual consumer spending on outdoor gear, travel to destinations where they’ll use it, and food and lodging in the towns they visit for outdoor recreation, among other ways outdoorists spend their money.

It’s likely measured quite differently now—just between this report and the last one, released in 2012, seven activities have been added to the list of those measured—and of course, there’s always inflation. But there has been organic growth, too.

Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association, testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce April 27, 2017. // Photo:

Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association, testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce April 27, 2017. // Photo: House Committee on Energy and Commerce

“The growth in our sector makes sense,” OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts said Thursday, in front of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce in Washington, D.C. Half of all Americans participated in outdoor activities last year, she said, and participation grew by 1.6 million people from 2015 to 2016. “That equates to 144 million participants, who went on a total of 11 billion outdoor outings. That’s a lot of hiking boots and water bottles.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Reno, Portland, Minneapolis, Denver, and New Mexico are just a few of the places that want their own piece of the outdoor pie, and that Salt Lake City is fighting so hard to keep the show.

“(The expositions) would have such an impact on room nights and would also drive air service and fill airplanes,” said Rick Murdock, RSCVA board member and chairman of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority board of trustees, the Gazette-Journal reported. “When you get a shot like this, you have to go and lace your shoes up.”