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Downtown businesses could feel the effects of event cancellations

Posted at 9:49 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 09:09:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Businesses in downtown Salt Lake City could see some impacts as a result of major events being postponed or canceled due to fear and restriction regarding COVID-19.

"Travelers spend big in Utah and we want to see that continue," said Downtown Alliance Executive Director Dee Brewer. "The economic concerns are beginning to be real and we hope that those are short-lived."

Brewer says that long-distance travelers who typically would come into Salt Lake City for conventions and conferences are not doing so. He believes the downtown area can continue to thrive with the help of local workers and regional travelers.

"Our friends in Wyoming, in Idaho, in Southern Utah, for which this (Salt Lake City) is always a great destination and remains a safe destination but the convention business has been impacted by the concerns about the virus," said Brewer.

Meanwhile, entertainment venues are seeing mixed results. The State Room located in downtown Salt Lake declined to speak with Fox13 however their website has a statement that reads "We are fans of live music and are committed to keeping it live! We will continue to do so unless we are advised otherwise by local and state authorities.

"I think we're all very aware we're trying to take the steps to do our due diligence and informing our staff, the people that are involved with us on every level and making sure they're taking the steps to be more sanitary," said Bryan Borreson, owner of Soundwell, a local music venue with a capacity of 600. "We've really heightened our levels of cleanliness and sanitation on the surfaces."

As of Wednesday afternoon, no artists had canceled their planned performances at Soundwell. However, if the customers stopped coming to shows out of fear of COVID-19 spread, there could be a drastic hit.

"I mean it would be devastating for us, the guests are the lifeblood of our business," said Borreson.

Downtown Salt Lake City will be missing out on a large dollar figure due to the cancellation of conventions and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' General Conference.

"The average convention visitor spends about $971 when they come to Salt Lake City, that has a substantial impact," said Borreson who referenced a Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute study. It is unknown exactly how much general conference-goers spend while they are in downtown Salt Lake.