Chicago Seeks Changes to Lower Show Costs

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – Stung by the recent defections of two high-profile trade shows, Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) reportedly plans to seek out funding assistance from the state and amend its food service contract to reduce F&B costs for show organizers. A delegation from the MPEA will be at the state capital this week to enlist the support of the Illinois legislature for potential changes.

While Chicago leaders hold regular meetings with service providers, union leaders and show managers to improve service and keep costs down, the trip to Springfield this week is a response to the recent decisions by the SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to move their 2012 trade shows to Orlando and Las Vegas respectively. The costs associated with holding their exhibitions at McCormick Place were cited by both groups as the reason for the move.

Sources say a new food service contract under discussion would eliminate the current revenue-sharing deal between the MPEA and Chicago Restaurant Partners, which provides catering and concessions at McCormick Place. A new contract would pay Chicago Restaurant Partners a flat management fee. The MPEA is expected to conduct a study to determine the impact of such a change on food service costs.

Commenting on the trip to Springfield, Juan Ochoa, CEO of the MPEA, said, “We are on a tight deadline. There is a sense of urgency to make changes for our customers.”

The MPEA would not discuss any specific goals that would be sought in Springfield, but officials told Trade Show Executive that an announcement of some sort was possible after the visit. TSE will report the latest developments via E-Clips®.

Reach Juan Ochoa at (312) 791-7500 or jochoa@mpea.com