Juan Ochoa Resigns as McPier CEO

Ochoa resigns despite the naming rights and budget issues at stake for Chicago’s popular landmarks

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The head of the organization that runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier resigned Wednesday just days before the Illinois legislature is expected to vote on a bill revamping the way the state runs the trade show business.   

    Juan Ochoa, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, or McPier, was expected to resign before he was replaced in a corporate reshuffling, according to the Chicago Tribune

    Ochoa, a Mexican by birth, said he plans to work on "the central issue our country will face this century: immigration reform."

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    While his departure isn't a huge surprise, new demands by trade show organizers are more so.

    Shows including National Restaurant Show, the American College of Surgeons and others signed on to an email this week demanding lawmakers remove a clause from pending legislation -- aimed at restructuring the ailing enterprise -- that gives McPier authority to appoint one firm as the exclusive contractor for McCormick Place.

    Contract issues are at the heart of a trade show exodus.

    "This clause must be removed, otherwise it negates all potential reform in other sections of the legislation," the e-mail states, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Removing the clause "will save McCormick Place a great deal of business."

    Lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill this Friday.

    Among the items that aren't causing consternation among trade show reps and lawmakers is one that could have an effect on city branding.

    Legislators have discussed the possibility of selling naming rights to McCormick and Navy Pier, the Tribune reports.

    (Imagine riding the Ferris wheel at Verizon Pier.)

    Lawmakers are also deciding if they should allow McPier to double the fees on taxi and bus rides from O’Hare and Midway airports, a move they say could bring in an additional $6 to $8 million a year, according to the Tribune.

    The plan would consist of 25 percent of the proceeds to go to an incentive fun for trying to attract new trade shows, and 75 percent would help pay off the facility expansion bonds.

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