A cornerstone of Chicago’s convention business is re-upping its commitment to the city for five more years, officials announced Monday.
“Thanks to the major steps we have taken to improve McCormick Place, more trade shows are choosing to locate right here in Illinois,” said Gov. Pat Quinn in announcing the deal. "Conventions like the National Restaurant Association Show provide a tremendous boost to our economy and create jobs, and we are proud that they have chosen to stay in Chicago for years to come."
Organizers were considering taking the show to Orlando or Las Vegasbefore McCormick Place agreed to institute new policies to help control costs at the lake front convention center.
"Allowing exhibitors the option to undertake a number of tasks they were previously precluded from engaging in will make the venue highly attractive," said Dawn Sweeney, the president of the National Restaurant Association.
According to a release, the event draws approximately 66,000 U.S. and international visitors to Chicago and McCormick Place each year. The NRA Show produces more than 45,000 hotel room nights annually, generating more than $1.7 million annually in occupancy taxes and more than $7.4 million annually in state and local taxes.
"This is a real victory for Chicago," said Mayor Richard Daley. "It builds on the successes we have achieved since we re-structured our convention operations."
Daley, who will retire from elected office next year, also used the deal as a lesson to his successors: "You can't live in the past. If you lived in the past, this would be a roller rink. It would be abandoned."
The May show isn’t the largest convention held here; but it is arguably the most visible and prestigious, and it’s a boon to area restaurants.