Reporting Bob Conway
UPDATED 11/15/10 11:30 a.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) - The National Restaurant Association has signed an agreement to keep using McCormick Place for its annual trade show through 2016.
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Executives from the trade group were joined by Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Pat Quinn to announce that the group’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event will be held at McCormick Place for five years to come.
The Restaurant Association decided to stay after weighing several options, according to a news release.
“The restaurant business has always been, and continues to be, all about warm hospitality, extraordinary service and great taste. Therefore, it is critically important to the National Restaurant Association that we hold our industry’s leading trade show in a location that possesses those characteristics,” Restaurant Association president and chief executive officer Dawn Sweeney said in the release. “We continue to strongly believe that Chicago, Illinois, is a world-class destination that provides outstanding business facilities, along with sensational culinary, cultural and entertainment assets.”
The Restaurant Association has been holding its convention in Chicago for more than 50 years.
The annual show is not the city’s largest, but it is one of its most visible and prestigious, filling the city’s restaurants during its stay in May.
The Chicago Tribune reported that city convention officials were hoping the Restaurant Association’s decision could be a further signal that trade shows are responding well to a new state law overhauling operations at McCormick Place.
Close to 60,000 people attended last year’s restaurant show, generating an estimated $86 million in local spending.
Insiders have said restaurant show organizers had been had been eyeing Orlando or Las Vegas as possible new locations for the show when the present commitment to Chicago ends after the 2011 show.
The International Housewares Association’s annual show recommitted earlier this year to staying in Chicago.
A year ago, McCormick Place was losing trade shows, as groups balked at high costs for union labor. Most notably, the International Plastics Exposition moved to Orlando, Fla., after holding its convention in Chicago since 1971.
State lawmakers stepped in earlier this year. In a bill sponsored by state Senate President John Cullerton (D-Ill.), labor costs were cut by allowing exhibitors to do their own setup, use outside electricians, and bring in their own food, bypassing convention center unions. The bill also doubled the ground transportation tax charged on trips to and from Chicago’s airports to boost tourism spending.
The law is being challenged in federal court.
There has also been talk of privatizing McCormick Place, or separating the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority–better known as McPier–into separate governing bodies for McCormick Place and Navy Pier.