The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau today announced an exceptional return on taxpayer dollars from the recent completion of the $58 million Salt Palace Expansion project, a project that will launch the Salt Palace Convention Center into a select category of convention facilities in the nation.
As a direct result of cooperative financing between Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City and Utah's economic development agency, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates that confirmed conventions, many of which could not have been accommodated without the expansion, will have an economic impact on Salt Lake of $233.1 million. Another nine groups representing an additional $56.3 million are tentatively booked, bringing the total current economic impact on Salt Lake to $277.2 million.
"Our commitment to offer an outstanding return on this important investment in tourism funding via the Transient Room Tax was driven by Outdoor Retailer trade shows,” said Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau president, Scott Beck. “We were confident we could also attract other large conventions that previously have been out of our reach. Clearly, the amount of business booked in the time since announcing the expansion demonstrates that this project represents good business sense for Salt Lake."
The expansion represents a 40 percent increase in the size of the facility, with 145,000 square feet of additional exhibit space and 72,000 square feet of new meeting space. According to a February 28, 2005, article in Tradeshow Week magazine, the aggressive building schedule is "poised to rewrite the rule book on convention center construction." The Salt Palace now offers 679,000 total square feet of exhibit, meeting and ballroom space.
According to an independent study commissioned by several civic organizations in 2003, initial economic growth estimates anticipated the expanded Salt Palace would allow Salt Lake to retain an annual $33.5 million in existing Outdoor Retailer spending while generating $40 million in new visitor spending annually.
“We’re happy to report that we’ve exceeded all expectations for a return on this investment,” stated Beck. “City, county and state political leaders showed a great spirit of cooperation to make the expansion a reality. We are grateful for their support and are working hard to capitalize on the community's investment in convention infrastructure. Additionally, the combination of a team of dedicated professionals and an enhanced product to sell has made this all possible.”
Steve Lundgren, vice president of the Salt Lake Valley Lodging Association, reiterates the importance to the economic community at large: "The expansion of the Salt Palace Convention Center is good business for Salt Lake and the state. The larger, more functional convention center will bring additional conventions to Salt Lake that were unable to meet here in the past. The expanded center also offers the size and layout to meet the needs of important repeat customers such as Outdoor Retailer. Hotels, restaurants, transportation, retail and entertainment all benefit greatly by more out of state visitors, as does the government and the state’s citizens by the increased taxes generated by our visitors.”
Today, Outdoor Retailer opened its 25th annual Summer Market in the newly expanded Salt Palace, representing its 10th year in Salt Lake. Outdoor Retailer announced in 2004 its plans to hold the Outdoor Retailer and Summer and Winter Trade Expos in Salt Lake through at least 2009.
“Combined with the proposal from the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau addressing Outdoor Retailer's expansion needs, Utah has shown an unmatched commitment to our industry that we cannot ignore," said Lee Fromson, president of Cascade Designs and Outdoor Industry Organization Chairperson.
Driven by customer demand, local and state governments pulled out all the stops to fast-track the Salt Palace expansion. Leaders from city, county and state governments worked out a compromise that allowed the expansion project to meet critical deadlines for keeping the highly beneficial Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake.
The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having recently undergone a $58 million expansion, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 679,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, visit www.VisitSaltLake.com.
* Impact figures are based on research from the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.