CHICAGO (CBS) — For the third time this week, a major convention pulls out of McCormick Place over the coronavirus.
Ace Hardware canceled its spring convention which was scheduled to take place next week.
CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen has the story.
The convention would have brought in $19 million to Chicago. Union members supplying the labor of setting up these shows are also seeing the impact.
Set up for the Ace Hardware 2020 Spring Convention started Thursday night.
“We were putting in a show last night, and in the middle of it they said go home. The show is cancelled,” said Donald Finn, Business Manager of IBEW Local 134.
Finn said “McCormick Place is our number one man hour facility for the union. We’ve probably in the last week have lost over 35,000 man hours.”
Union leaders met trying to figure out what to do next for members who are now left without a job.
“It’s needed to pay bills, put kids through school, pay medical bills and cover their houses,” Finn lamented. “So yeah, it’s catastrophic right now.”
Finn said he’s worried about the future and what’s in store for his union and the trade show industry in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“The coronavirus is the fear of the unknown. No one knows where this is going to go,” Finn said. “The fear of how long is this going to last.”
McCormick Place was not expecting Ace Hardware to drop out. Earlier this week, the Inspired Home Show and Oracle made the decision to pull the plug.
The three events combined would have brought in an estimated $130 million. Money visitors would have spent on restaurants and hotels.
“We worry about empty hotel rooms every day of the week even before the coronavirus,” said Michael Jacobson of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association.
The organization said more than 70,000 room nights have been lost due to the cancellations this week, and they’re starting to see the impact on the city.
“But I think it’s still too early to tell what the long term impact,” Jacobson said. “Right now we’re just trying to stress that the CDC has no active travel advisories here in the United States.”
From now until June, there are 65 events still scheduled to go on at McCormick Place. Officials haven’t been notified yet of any more cancellations but that could change.