Politics cited in trade show’s move from Utah to Colorado

DENVER — A Denver announcement Thursday that it is the new home for the nation’s largest outdoor recreation trade show underscored an important aspect of modern business — politics matter.

The Outdoor Retailer trade show — actually two trade shows a year — confirmed that it is leaving Utah after 20 years and decamping east to Denver.

The change comes not because Denver has a bigger airport or extended a financial incentive. Organizers who made the announcement Thursday were frank that the reason they chose to move from Salt Lake City to Denver, starting in 2018, was because Colorado is more “progressive” and has a better “culture” for the industry.

Show organizers said in February that they were leaving Utah for a new long-term home because of Republican state leaders’ opposition to the new Bears Ears National Monument and other public land policies. “We chose Denver because of Colorado’s long-term commitment to protecting and nurturing public lands,” said Marisa Nicholson, director of the Outdoor Retailer trade show.

The show had considered leaving Utah in the past over philosophical differences. It finally did after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution calling on federal officials to rescind the monument that President Barack Obama designated on 1.3 million acres of land in southeastern Utah considered sacred to Native American tribes.