March 13, 2021

Chicago’s convention business could restart by mid-summer

Mike Bilek, the auto show’s senior director of communications and technology, said the show has…

Mike Bilek, the auto show’s senior director of communications and technology, said the show has not yet been formally notified of the state’s new stance but termed Hynes’ comments as “wonderful news.”

Bilek added that show and state officials are scheduled to meet tomorrow.  “We’d like to have a show and we’d love to talk to them.  But we haven’t heard anything official.”

Hynes said the auto show would be a sort of trial run for a pair of other gatherings: The National Conference of State Legislators on Aug. 3 and the National Apartment Association at the end of August. They’re scheduled to draw roughly 5,000 and 11,000 attendees each.

Though some large conventions already have cancelled their 2021 dates, still on the schedule is the Fab Tech manufacturing show on Sept. 13. It normally  draws about 28,000 people, and industry sources say the group is still interested in meeting in Chicago if it can get clearance, but needs some indication fairly soon.

Detailed rules and regulations on what procedures meeting planners must follow still won’t be out for a few weeks, Hynes said, but the state wanted to give planners some indication as to what to expect.

Hynes’ statement came on a day when the state announced another increase in vaccine doses distributed, with the 7-day rolling average now at a record daily high of 95,869, about 1 percent of the state’s adult population.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Pritzker’s move is drawing praise from state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, who chairs the Senate’s new committee on tourism and hospitality.

“The governor’s announcement came at the perfect time,” she said in an email. “It tells the public that Illinois government is quite capable of following the science and simultaneously making a plan to safely bring back an industry for events that are six months away.”  

The move should help reverse “devastating” job losses in the convention and related industries, she added.