coronavirus illinois

Some Conventions Could Return to Chicago's McCormick Place This Summer

In a statement to NBC 5, a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said "that's the plan"

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Optimism over the return of some events this summer in Chicago appears to be growing as even the governor gave hope this week.

Already, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city could see a summer more like "what we normally experience," and now the governor's office noted that McCormick Place could also be bringing back some events.

In a statement to NBC 5, a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said "that's the plan."

So far, two trade show events that typically attract large crowds to McCormick Place have been canceled due to COVID-19 for the second straight year.

The National Restaurant Association canceled its show, which was slated for May, and rescheduled it for May 21-24, 2022, according to the group’s website.

The Inspired Home Show from the International Housewares Association was also canceled, the group announced on its website Monday. The show was scheduled to take place Aug. 7-10 and is now set for March 5-8, 2022.

But on Wednesday, city officials said summer could bring a reprieve for residents.

"I'm still very optimistic about summer activities and gatherings of this summer," Lightfoot said during a news conference. "But more to come."

Lightfoot described officials as "cautiously optimistic" about the return of summer events like the Taste of Chicago, but said she would not predict if specific events would occur -- also suggesting that people may not participate should events be held.

"Let's be honest, just because we say X event is happening doesn't mean that people are going to come in mass, unless they're 18 or 19," Lightfoot said. "They'll come, but for the rest of us are a little more cautious."

About a year since the coronavirus arrived in Chicago, Lightfoot said residents could see a return to more normalcy as officials know more information about the novel coronavirus.

"We know so much more about the virus, how it spreads that we did a year ago," Lightfoot said. "We know, in particular, about outside events -- that we can manage these in a safe way that's consistent with the public health guidance. So, as I said, I think the summer of 2021 looks more like what we normally experienced."

Last week, city officials said that while nothing is for certain, they’ve asked various departments to prepare for the possibility of summer events to return.

“While we are not formally planning nor permitting events at this time, our COVID-19 indicators continue to trend in the right direction and we are hopeful that some events that align with health guidelines may be possible later this year,” Christine Lightfoot’s press office said in a statement to NBC 5.  

“As such, Mayor Lightfoot has directed City departments to prepare for the possibility of events this summer and ensure any resources that could be necessary are available.”

Last summer, events like Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago were canceled and for the last year concert halls and theatres have been shuttered or forced to operate at a limited capacity.

On Thursday, the Metro announced shows at GMan Tavern, located next to the iconic concert hall that are scheduled for later this month with limited capacity.

However, some, like JAM Productions owner Jerry Mickelson are already selling tickets online for his outdoor music venues in hopes they can soon reopen at full capacity this summer and with precautions in place.

During Live Nation’s Q4 earnings call, CEO Michael Rapino said he believes the company will be able to host outdoor concerts in some areas of the country with 75% to 100% capacity by mid-summer, according to Music Business Worldwide.

Despite the challenges ahead, Live Nation hopes to work on a plan to bring shows back to Illinois.

“It’s encouraging to be one step closer to reconnecting artists and fans at concerts.” Live Nation said in a statement to NBC 5.”While events will require regular capacity to really work in the long term, we are grateful for the ongoing partnership of many of Chicago’s elected officials, including Governor Pritzker, and are looking forward to working together on a plan to get to shows with regular capacity as soon as we can.”

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