Daley: Navy Pier, McCormick Place like "Apples, Oranges"

Mayor would like to see McPier split into two organizations

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010  |  Updated 11:00 PM CDT
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Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said Wednesday that it doesn't make sense having one governing body oversee both Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

"They’re two different" venues, Daley said. "Navy Pier basically has nothing to do with conventions. It’s almost amusement and a cultural center there. So you separate that out, and have McCormick Place deal with conventions."

He and some state lawmakers would like to see McPier split into two organizations.

"You cannot mix apples and oranges," Daley said.

Indeed, Navy Pier is Chicago's largest tourist attraction, attracting more than 8 million visitors each year.  McCormick Place, while the largest convention center in the country, doesn't see that kind of foot traffic and stands to lose some if conventions keep skipping town.

Daley last week signed on to a proposal that would essentially gut the trade convention process in Chicago, removing contractors from the equation, and leave the facility as "nothing more than a shell" that would market itself for new business.  That would leave the conventions themselves to contract, sub-contract and hire employees.

Numerous trade shows have been leaving or threatening to leave Chicago in search of friendlier exhibition spaces in places like Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida. Representatives have cited ridiculous cost overruns – such as a $345.39 invoice for four cases of Pepsi, according to Plasticsnews.com, a publication for plastics industry trade show – and poor service as the reason for leaving.

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