Friday, May 8, 2020

A Look at Covid-19's Impact on McCormick Places Convention Business

An interesting look at the convention business at McCormick Place and how it has been impacted by Covid-19 (via Chicago Tribune):
Before Illinoisans were working from home, before restaurants had shut down and before the stay-at-home order was in place, the coronavirus pandemic was already ravaging the state’s convention business.
Now it appears the industry that sustained the pandemic’s first economic blows might be one of the last to recover.
Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen the state, conventions cannot be held until the final phase of recovery. To reach that phase, a vaccine must be developed, a treatment option must be readily available or no new cases must arise over a sustained period.
There’s no telling how long it might take to reach the fifth phase, and increases in cases or hospitalizations could hamper progress. As a result, organizations are unsure whether they should cancel events later this year that would bring tens of thousands of people to the Chicago area, staying in hotels, taking cabs and ride-share vehicles and using their expense accounts to dine in the best restaurants.

The financial impact is staggering:
Between July and December, McCormick Place is scheduled to host 67 events with an expected attendance of 781,168 people, said spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty. Those meetings and conventions translate to 585,199 nights in hotel rooms and generate $922.7 million in economic impact, including spending on food and entertainment.
McCormick Place had its first event cancellation related to the COVID-19 outbreak March 3. As of April 20, 65 events that would have drawn 656,668 attendees had been canceled or postponed at the facility, delivering an economic hit to the city of $897 million.

Just last week the convention center was being shut down as a possible emergency overflow outpost of sick patients.  So it's not super surprising that the financial impact of lost conventions is going to be drastic, that said it's still hard to wrap your head around this. 

Even more so, the city and local businesses rely on these conventions in so many ways so the impact is going to linger and have broad impact.

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