Chicago, IL – Chicago will remain the site of The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show through 2011 under an agreement signed July 21.
The five-year deal, agreed to by NRA, the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority keeps the annual event on its familiar turf at McCormick Place and scuttles speculation the show would relocate to Las Vegas, Orlando or Dallas. It was the biggest long-term commitment made by the NRA. Although the show has been held in Chicago for the past 56 consecutive years, NRA traditionally books only one to two years at a time.
NRA President and CEO Steven Anderson said Chicago had the facilities required for the sprawling event, which this year drew about 73,000 attendees and pumped $106 million into the Windy City’s economy. In addition, he said, Chicago had “the great culinary, cultural and entertainment attractions that our exhibitors and attendees expect.”
“That unsurpassed combination forms the platform we need to provide the best possible annual marketplace for restaurant and hospitality industry professionals and suppliers,” said Anderson.
The agreement includes pledges by Chicago’s hotels to earmark more hotel rooms for the show and review operations at McCormick Place to identify ways to improve the performance of the facility and its staff.
The show’s decision to stay put also was also credited in large part to a new labor agreement reached in May with the Riggers Union local. (See Trade Show Executive magazine, June 2006, p. 6 or go online to the TSE Vault, www.tradeshowexecutive.com/TheVault_main.asp?id=286). The agreement eased requirements for crew sizes and overtime that had vexed show organizers and were blamed for driving some events to other cities.
NRA’s departure after 56 years would have hurt the city symbolically and economically. Two large events, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), recently announced their shows would start rotating cities. The NAR will hold its 2007 show in Las Vegas, and FMI, which has met in Chicago since 1982, will hold its 2009 event in Dallas.
“NRA’s commitment to Chicago is welcome news for the 130,000 Chicagoans who work for hotels, restaurants, attractions and other businesses that serve our visitors,” said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley at a press conference on July 21 at Navy Pier. “This is a real victory for Chicago….. (The NRA Show) is truly a Chicago institution …”