Chicago McCormick Place currently offers 2.2 million square feet of convention space, following the opening late last year of the new $987 million McCormick Place South, which added 840,000 square feet of divisible exhibit space. The new building is a single-level exhibit hall with 40-foot-high ceilings, two restaurants overlooking the exhibit floor, plus a food court and fine dining restaurant. It also contains 150,000 square feet of indoor crate storage and 65 additional truck docks.
Besides adding exhibit space, the expansion nearly doubles McCormick Place's meeting capabilities, with 45 new meeting rooms, plus the 33,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and the 22,000-square-foot Vista Room, overlooking Lake Michigan. The Grand Concourse, a 100-foot-high, 900-foot-long pedestrian walkway, connects the new South Building to the adjacent North Building and the original East Building. The Grand Concourse allows the North and South buildings' exhibit halls to be used for one event--1.3 million square feet of exhibition space on one level.
The original East Building is being renamed the Lakeside Center and retrofitted to handle midsize meetings and trade shows, with completion scheduled for November. The lower level will offer 60,000 square feet of overflow exhibit space, as well as a phone center and restaurants. Level two contains a 283,000-square-foot exhibit area, a registration lobby, and 25 meeting rooms, plus a theater seating 4,000 persons. Level three has a divisible 300,000-square-foot exhibit area, a versatile 45,000-square-foot ballroom, two 4,500-square-foot meeting rooms, three theaters (each seating 345), and a divisible 13,000-square-foot meeting and/or banquet room. Level four offers four divisible meeting rooms (from 4,500 square feet to 15,000 square feet) and impressive, panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
Navy Pier, a renovated landmark dating back to 1916, was renovated and reopened in 1994. It offers 12,000 square feet of exhibit space, 23 meeting rooms (with seating for up to 5,000), plus an 18,000-square-foot ballroom that seats up to 2,000 persons theater-style. The facility's multipurpose Festival Hall features 170,000 square feet of exhibit space and 48,000 square feet of meeting space in 36 rooms.
The Merchandise Mart/Expo Center in downtown Chicago features 100,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space on one level, plus 20 meeting rooms and a 525-room hotel on site.
Harvey The Chicago South Expo Center, in the Southland community of Harvey, features a total of 60,000 square feet of function space, 46,884 square feet in the main ballroom, plus seven meeting rooms. Five hotels are nearby.
Rosemont The Rosemont Convention Center currently offers 600,000 square feet of exhibit space in seven halls. There is 52,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space in the adjacent Rosemont Conference Center, plus a 30,000-square-foot lobby. There is an enclosed "skybridge" walkway to three major hotels. Construction of 100,000 square feet of new exhibit space at the center was completed in August.
The Rosemont Horizon is a sports/concert stadium available for special events, featuring 20,000 square feet of function space and expanded seating for up to 18,000 persons.
Rosemont Theatre, which opened in 1995, is a $20 million, 4,415-seat performing arts center adjacent to the convention center.
After Hours Meeting attendees who are lucky enough to find themselves with some free time in Chicago are fortunate, indeed--this city is brimming with options to suit just about every visitor's taste. The city is, for instance, a shopper's paradise, including the State Street, North Michigan Avenue, Oak Street, and River North retail districts. It is also a city full of architectural gems, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation provides a variety of critically acclaimed tours, which can be taken by foot, boat, or bus.
Guided tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home are also very popular. The turn-of-the-century home and studio of one of America's most renowned architects features soaring space and colorful glass. Included are walking tours of the surrounding Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District in Oak Park. North Pier Architectural and Historical Cruises offer public and private architectural tours by boat from an exclusive dock at North Pier.
Chicago is also renowned for its theater productions. The League of Chicago Theaters operates the HOT TIX ticket centers, where half-price tickets for theater and dance events can be purchased the day of the performance. HOT TIX also sells full-price, advance sale tickets.
No visit to Chicago would be complete without a visit to at least one of its many famous museums, among them the Adler Planetarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Science and Industry. More offbeat museums include the Ernest Hemingway Museum and Birthplace in Oak Park, Capone's Chicago in the downtown area, and the Lizzardo Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst.
One of the Midwest's most popular family attractions is not far from downtown Chicago. Six Flags Great America, located in Gurnee, features more than 130 rides, shows, restaurants, and attractions.