Four Meeting Planners Dig Chicago

TSE STAFF
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Chicago – Groundbreaking ceremonies were held May 24th for the latest expansion of McCormick Place. On hand were four meeting planners who signed agreements to hold future events in McCormick Place’s West Building, then dug their ceremonial shovels in the ground in front of a group of nearly 300 industry members, local dignitaries and staff.

The $850 million West Building will offer 470,000 square feet of exhibit space and 250,000 square feet of meeting space when it opens for occupancy in 2008.  McCormick Place’s four-building complex, plus the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel and conference center, will then offer a total of 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space and 600,000 square feet of meeting space.

McCormick Place has added a new exhibition facility in the complex in each of the past four decades: The East Building (now Lakeside Center) re-opened in 1971 after a fire in 1967 destroyed the original building; the North Building opened in 1986; the South Building was completed in 1996; and the  West Building is expected to begin hosting events in 2008.

The West Building will offer a highly desirable ratio of meeting space to exhibit space – nearly one to two. Other key features of the new building include a 100,00 square foot ballroom, a centralized transportation center, dedicated roadways for freight delivery and a rooftop garden with a covered terrace.   The five-story building and its concourse was designed to have exhibit space, breakout rooms, common areas and business services in close proximity.

The American Dietetic Association, the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the Geological Society of North America  are four of the 14 new pieces of business booked in the West Building. Attendees at these 14 events are expected to generate about $230 million in direct spending in the local economy.

Christopher Bowers, CEO of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, said that many of the first 14 events to sign commitments could not get their desired dates and space in the facility in the past. He also noted, “The feedback from customers – especially medical and professional associations — has been tremendous.”

The 14 events are expected to generate $230 million in direct spending, $13 million in tax revenue and 3,500 hospitality jobs. Roughly 14 million business and meeting travelers visit Chicago each year, generating an economic impact of $5.1 billion in the local economy.

Reach Bowers at (312) 567-8500 or cbowers@choosechicago.com.