The National Restaurant Association will continue to hold its annual NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer event in the Windy City through 2016.
A five-year agreement was solidified November 15 between the NRA, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB). The 2011 event will be held May 21-24 at McCormick Place Chicago.
McCormick Place is the anticipated venue throughout the remainder of the five-year contract.
The NRA show has been a tradition for 61 years and is expected to generate more than $600 million in direct expenditures to Chicago throughout the next six years, buoyed by more than 66,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors.
Monday's announcement was made by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, representatives from Chicago's convention and hospitality industry and Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO.
"The restaurant business has always been, and continues to be, all about warm hospitality, extraordinary service and great taste. Therefore, it is critically important to the National Restaurant Association that we hold our industry’s leading trade show in a location that possesses those characteristics," Sweeney said at a press conference. "We continue to strongly believe that Chicago is a world-class destination that provides outstanding business facilities, along with sensational culinary, cultural and entertainment assets."
Rumors of the convention moving came after the conclusion of the 2010 show, even though attendance was up 11 percent.
Much of the uncertaintly surrounded then-unsigned legislation designed to reform convention labor rules, establish more exhibitor rights and realign McCormick Place operations with its major convention competitors.
Quinn did not sign the measure, however the Illinois General Assembly overrode his veto and wrote the historic convention reform into law May 27. The new law establishes an 18-month period to develop and implement significant reforms intended to reduce exhibition costs and covers the MPEA, which owns and operates McCormick Place.
"Along with all that the city of Chicago has to offer, McCormick Place -- with the new legislation being implemented -- will now provide an exhibitor-friendly, hassle-free and cost-effective facility that makes for an outstanding trade show environment," Sweeney said. "The legislation includes many important provisions that will help us grow our trade show."
According to Sweeney, benefits of the legislation include allowing exhibitors the option to undertake a number of tasks they were previously precluded from engaging in and decreased foodservice and electrical costs.
"We are in a global marketplace with instant communications and intense competition. With that reality as a backdrop, the National Restaurant Association is pleased with the direction the recent legislation has taken," Sweeney said. "We encourage labor leaders to continue working to provide an unsurpassed experience to attract an ever greater number of trade show exhibitors from across the United States and around the world to Chicago."