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Chicago Auto Show is on for July — breathing life into McCormick Place for first time since pandemic began

The auto show will take place July 15-19.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces Tuesday that the Chicago Auto Show is planned for a four-day run in July at McCormick Place.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces Tuesday that the Chicago Auto Show is planned for a four-day run in July at McCormick Place.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The Chicago Auto Show will take place this year at McCormick Place, marking the first convention to be held there since the onset of the pandemic.

The show will take place July 15-19 — shorter than the normal nine-day run in February, according to an announcement Tuesday morning by the auto show organizers.

And due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the number of people allowed to attend the event at any one time will be limited to 10,000 people.

Event organizers hope that number will expand as COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with supporters Tuesday after it was announced that the Chicago Auto Show will take place in July at McCormick Place.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with supporters Tuesday after it was announced that the Chicago Auto Show will take place in July at McCormick Place.
Ashlee Rezin García/Sun-Times

The show itself will move to McCormick Place’s West Building, and part of the show will be held outside along Indiana Avenue and surrounding streets where test drives and technology demonstrations will take place.

Plans for a street festival along Indiana Avenue that will feature cars, entertainment, food and drink are also in the works.

“We’ve been working with McCormick Place officials for months on an opening plan, and very early on they saw that our show may provide a pathway to re-opening the facility,” said Chicago Auto Show general manager Dave Sloan.

Tickets to the auto show will be sold only online, where attendees will be able to select their preferred attendance time as part of an effort to maintain limited capacity and prevent bunching at the show’s entrance.

Face masks will be required, temperatures will be scanned and a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entry is allowed.

The convention will be a trial run of sorts for other conventions awaiting green lights.

“Around this time last year, McCormick Place was turned into an alternate care facility that significantly aided our city during the first wave of COVID-19 — making today’s announcement all the more special,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement, referencing the convention center’s brief transformation into a care center for COVID-19 patients.

“In the same spirit of collaboration between government, health care, community, and corporate partners, we are now able to bring conventions back to our beloved convention center in a way that is safe and reflective of our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of this virus. I look forward to seeing the McCormick Place reopen its doors for the Chicago Auto Show this July and further enhance our city’s ongoing Open Chicago initiative.”

The Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in February 2020.
The Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in February 2020.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times