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Vote on Cost-Cutting Proposals for McCormick Place Rescheduled to April 21


Chicago, IL – An April 19 vote by the interim board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) on proposals to reduce costs at McCormick Place was postponed at the last minute due to a sudden scheduling conflict with a member who had an emergency situation.

The vote, which will formally send the proposals to the Illinois state legislature for further action, was rescheduled for Wednesday, April 21 at the MPEA’s Corporate Center Board Room.

The proposals are aimed at easing the overall cost burden on exhibitors. Complaints about the price of labor, drayage and electricity at McCormick Place are cited as the primary reasons for the departure of trade shows to other cities and rumblings that more events could follow suit.

In fact, at an April 1 public hearing on the subject, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau President Tim Roby urged the committee not to dally with an overhaul of McCormick Place operations. “If customers are not satisfied with efforts to change the way we operate, shows will leave,” he said. “If we don’t fix this before the legislative session adjourns – and I’m not sugar-coating this – come July 1 you can be sure that at least five and as many as 20 more shows will leave Chicago.”

The interim MPEA board met Sunday, April 18 to discuss the issues and finalize a package of ideas that could be passed by the General Assembly as early as mid-May.

Details of the proposals were not released publicly; however, the Chicago Tribune said the package likely included:

  • Cutting the profit margin on electrical and food services. Increasing competition for services is a possibility.
  • Concessions from the McCormick Place unions, either through new negotiations with service contractors or by making the union workers employees of the MPEA.
  • Restructuring the McCormick Place debt load and seeking a $20 million public subsidy from the state.

Reach Juan Ochoa, CEO of the MPEA, at (312) 791-7500 or

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