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Benjamin Spillman

Leaving Las Vegas: Snow show makes tracks for Denver

2 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Just before Labor Day, Las Vegas landed atop a list of the best places in America for outdoor sports.

By Halloween, one of the nation's top outdoor sports trade shows announced it would leave Las Vegas for Denver in 2010.

The 36-year-old SIA SnowSports Trade Show will pack up its gear and head to the Rocky Mountain State after failing to close a deal with Mandalay Bay Convention Center that would have kept it in Las Vegas through 2015. The show represents products covering 95 percent of the market share for skis and snowboards and 80 percent of the Nordic, telemark and snowshoe markets.

Show organizers said the event, which attracted about 17,000 people in January 2006, had outgrown its home of five years and needed room to accommodate new vendors. Based on attendance the show is worth nearly $28 million in nongaming economic activity, according to an estimate from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Organizers also said they would save money in Denver not only on hotel rates but also when it comes to paying help to set up and take down the exhibits.

"Las Vegas is no longer a discount destination," the organizers stated in a statement. "Moving the show to Denver will provide a savings for members in overall costs including hotel rates and entertainment costs," organizers wrote.

The statement also said organizers in Denver would pay "straight-time" rates for move-in and move-out help as opposed to overtime in Las Vegas.

David Ingemie, president of Virginia-based SnowSports Industries America, was not in the office Wednesday and did not respond to requests for comment.

Richard Harper, vice president of sales and marketing for Mandalay Bay, said the hotel tried for six months to work out a deal to keep the snow show.

"They were very specific to the week they needed and we could not accommodate that," Harper said. He said Mandalay Bay has several customers vying to fill the space the Snow Sports will leave behind.

Trade shows and conventions generate more than $8 billion annually for the local economy, making Las Vegas the top destination in the country for such events.

Despite a decline in consumer confidence and the possibility of a recession looming over the national economy, Harper said trade show and convention business remains strong in Las Vegas.

"You will typically see when the economy starts to change, meetings and conventions are one of the first things looked at," he said. "We haven't seen it."