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What's Happening to Chicago Convention Business?

By vouchey in News on Dec 6, 2004 5:49PM

McCormick Place South.jpgIn case you didn't know, Chicago has one of the largest convention centers in the world, McCormick Place, and as a result, Chicago's one of the top convention cities in the world -- number one by some measures. But a few things have happened this past year that might knock the crown from Chi-town.

Laura Washington notes in the Sun Times today that Miami's "Art Basel Miami Beach" is doing just fine, and seems to draining life from "Art Chicago", which shrank so much in the past year, that it's moved to Butler Field in Grant Park.

We've seen this movie before. The name? The National Hardware Show. Hard to believe, but every year the show would bring over 100,000 attendees and almost 2,000 exhibitors. That's a lot of hotel rooms, cab fares and restaurant bills. After years of complaints from exhibitors and organizers that convention costs were too high, Chicago lost the show to Las Vegas starting last May.

So what's going on? According to Greg Hinz in today's Crain's Chicago Business (subscription required) union leaders know they have to take wage cuts, but nobody wants to be the first to volunteer. But then, it hasn't helped that one of the Locals have had some accusations of kickbacks. On top of that, concessions owners need to be coaxed into lowering their rates, but again, nobody wants to be the first.

Chicago's definately a number one city. But we still need to see if we can avoid being number one jerks for losing convention business that should be ours.