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11/23/2009

Conventional Warfare

  If Chicago loses the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show and the nearly $90 million spent by the event's 50,000-plus attendees, don't blame the McCormick Place unions.   Las Vegas, with its oversized inventory of 140,000 hotel rooms, is offering the biggest tradeshows and conventions a rockbottom $92.50 per night average room rate, according to "Sin City's" Convention Authority spokesman Vince Alberta.  

  A Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau spokeswoman, Meghan Risch says the average room rate here is about $140.00 per night.  That's nearly $50.00 higher than what Vegas presumably is offering the NRA.  The trade show has been a staple in Chicago for more than half a century.  Last year, it attracted 54,000 exhibitors and buyers to McCormick place and they reportedly pumped $86 million dollars into the city and region's economy. 

  Earlier this month, Chicago lost the 2012 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society convention to Las Vegas and the 2012 and 2015 Plastics Industry Trade Show to Orlando.  Local news reports on those losses focused on the high cost of union work rules at McCormick Place as the major reason the events left Chicago.  But convention authority spokespersons in Orlando as well as Las Vegas discounted facilities costs as factors.  They credited their cities' marketing successes to "promotions" they have offerred, i.e. lower prices for travel-related expenses such as hotels and airfares.

  Las Vegas and Orlando are pulling out all the stops to attract conventions.  The real estate collapse that economic experts say is at the root of "The Great Recession" (as Mayor Daley calls it) has devastated the economies of both Nevada and Florida.  They are desperate.

  Let's see:  The National Restaurant Association Trade Show needs how many hotel rooms?  They can get 'em for $50.00 less per room in Las Vegas?  Casinos, floor shows, too?

  Do the math.

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