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Outdoor Retailer expo here for another year, but after that…

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Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-24 00:08:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Over the next few days, more than 22,000 will pack the Salt Palace for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

Like its companion Summer Market, the multimillion dollar trade show premieres the latest in outdoor equipment for buyers. It's entering its 16th year.

"Utah and Salt Lake City has been incredibly wonderful and welcoming to us," said Kate Lowery, a spokeswoman for the Outdoor Retailer show. "It's like a big hug every time we come."

The expo is under contract to stay in Salt Lake City through August 2016. But it remains to be seen if it will renew.

"We are in the process of convening a team of industry leaders to start those discussions now," Lowery told FOX 13. "We definitely don't want to make decisions that don't include the feedback from our community and our constituents."

Anywhere there is space, there appears to be a booth at the popular show. It's also profitable for Salt Lake City. A survey by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research found spending around the Outdoor Retailer expo is about $495 million, with $46 million in local taxes.

Outdoor Retailer has thrown its support behind a convention center mega-hotel. Lowery said it was not a "deal breaker," but some in the booths on the Salt Palace floor said space is at a premium.

Last year, the Utah State Legislature approved funding to build a convention center hotel. Salt Lake County has thrown the project out for bid, with only one response from the Omni Hotel chain.

Visit Salt Lake said such a hotel is not only important to keep Outdoor Retailer's summer and winter markets -- but other conventions, too.

"It's absolutely important," said Visit Salt Lake CEO Scott Beck. "We're the only competitive city in the western United States that doesn't have one. So is it key to Outdoor Retailer? No. There's a lot of factors that are key to Outdoor Retailer. Is it key to Salt Lake City as a convention city? Absolutely."

The Salt Lake County Mayor's Office said Friday that it was in ongoing talks about the project with Omni Hotels but could not provide specifics citing confidentiality agreements.