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Virus-related ban on big events costing McCormick Place

Spokeswoman says 17 events fall under Gov. Pritzker’s order affecting assemblies of 1,000 or more.

McCormick Place exterior
McCormick Place is sustaining heavy losses from cancellations due to the coronavirus.
Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s ban on gatherings with more than 1,000 people for the next 30 days is expected to cover at least 17 events at McCormick Place, Cynthia McCafferty, a spokeswoman for the convention center, said Thursday. The governor issued the order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The events include seven listed on McCormick Place’s public calendar posted online. Two of the event cancellations already have been announced. They are the American College of Cardiology, scheduled for March 28-30, and the National School Boards Association, scheduled for April 4-6.

McCormick Place’s other publicly posted events through April 12 are: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K Health and Fitness Expo, March 20-22; NCTM 2020 Centennial Annual Meeting, April 2-4; Black Women’s Expo, April 3-5; American Case Management Association 2020 National Conference, April 6-8; and Adidas Windy City National Qualifier 2020, April 10-12.

McCafferty said some organizers opt to keep their events out of the posted schedule. She said she did not immediately have a list of those.

Another event that has quit McCormick Place on virus worries, Salesforce Connections 2020, was scheduled for May 4-6, outside the time range of Pritzker’s order. Salesforce said its program will be moved to a virtual setting.

The largest event to cancel at McCormick Place this week has been the annual exhibition of the International Housewares Association, which was expected to draw 56,000 people from Saturday through Tuesday.

Pritzker also is strongly discouraging events with 250 or more people for 30 days. That guidance is expected to lead to more groups abandoning plans at smaller venues and hotels through at least mid-April.

The result will be a steep drop in hotel and restaurant business and airline use. The lost business is likely to lead to layoffs and to a shortfall in local government revenue from tourism-related taxes.

Last week, the government agency that owns McCormick Place published a warning to its debt holders that its results may be hurt by a “pandemic or health epidemic.”