Crain’s Chicago Business Examines McPier Political Feud

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – Allegations that political spite played a role in the woes of McCormick Place in recent years were outlined in a lengthy newspaper investigation of the relationship between leaders of the Illinois legislature and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA).

Crain’s Chicago Business contends that speaker of the Illinois House, Mike Madigan, used his clout to block three efforts by MPEA to refinance its debt between 2005 and 2010. Madigan allegedly created a  bottleneck of the plans in the House because Juan Ochoa, CEO of the MPEA at the time, had fired the agency’s chief of external relations, whom one lawmaker described as one of “Madigan’s guys.”

The resulting inability of the MPEA to lower its interest costs and advance plans for a new hotel serving McCormick Place, Crain’s contends, contributed to the financial crisis that led to the complete overhaul of the work rules at the convention center.