CHICAGO (CBS) — Dashing fears that Chicago could lose the annual restaurant show to Las Vegas or Orlando forever, the National Restaurant Association announced Tuesday that it is moving up the convention next year to avoid overlapping with the NATO and G8 Summit next May.
The National Restaurant Association has agreed to a deal with the city to hold its annual show on the weekend of May 5-8, 2012, at McCormick Place – two weeks earlier than normal. The move avoids having the restaurant show running at the same time as the Global G8 and NATO Summit, scheduled to be held in Chicago from May 15-22, 2012.
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“The (National Restaurant Association’s) primary goal is provide our exhibitors and attendees an environment that is conducive to business,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Sweeney said that city officials and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority – which runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier – had made it clear that security and logistical issues for the G8 and NATO summit would have required restricting movement in Chicago during the restaurant show.
“Therefore, after carefully considering a number of options, we’ve come to the conclusion that keeping the 2012 NRA Show in Chicago but moving it to earlier in May will provide the best opportunity for our industry to have a productive and enjoyable 2012 Show,” she added.
Along with the restaurant show, the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event at McCormick Place will also move up two weeks to take place from May 6-7, 2012.
The annual restaurant show draws more than 58,000 restaurant professionals to the city and brings in about $100 million and more than 60,000 temporary jobs to Chicago to support the show.
The restaurant show has been held in Chicago since 1950 and has a contract to stay in Chicago through 2016.
The NATO/G8 meetings will draw leaders and heads of state from around the world, including from the world’s eight largest industrialized nations, requiring significant security measures that could create gridlock in parts of the city.
The NATO/G8 Summit is expected to fill 10,000 hotel rooms from May 15-22, which could have created a logistical nightmare with the restaurant show also expected to bring 58,000 attendees. By moving from the weekend of May 19-22 to the weekend of May 5-8, there will be a major easing of demand for hotel rooms.
Before agreeing to move up the date of the restaurant show, the National Restaurant Association had been considering leaving Chicago for Las Vegas or Orlando. Sources said that if the restaurant show had moved out of Chicago, it would not have returned after 2012 because the new host city would have gone out of its way to keep the convention.
–CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine and CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.