Governor Signs Bill to Replace Chicago MPEA Board

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that will replace the 13-member board of Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA) with a seven-member board.

The measure was signed February 17 and will result in a new board being seated within 30 days. Current board members are eligible for the new panel. Quinn will appoint three members. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will also appoint three members and a chairman. The looming question is whether the trade show industry will be represented on the board.

The overhaul of the board was part of the political fallout from the decision by two major trade shows to leave their long-time McCormick Place home for better deals in Las Vegas and Orlando. The departures were blamed primarily on the labor costs at McCormick Place.

The MPEA board in January sought to improve the competitiveness of McCormick Place with a sweeping change to the labor structure at the center. The proposal grouped the building’s five unions into three bargaining groups. The idea received a cool reception from the trade show industry, which viewed it as a labor exclusive, and from the unions, which stated publicly that they had made repeated concessions but the savings were not being passed on to exhibitors.

In response, the Illinois State Assembly quickly introduced and passed the bill reshaping the board and assigning it to conduct a detailed review of McCormick Place. Lawmakers said they wanted as much information as possible before deciding on adopting the MPEA proposal or making any other changes. The report is anticipated around May 1.

Reach MPEA Chairman John Gates at (312) 791-7500 orjgates@mpea.com