McCormick Place History
McCormick Place is named in honor of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, a controversial and charismatic visionary who served as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. It was Colonel McCormick who spearheaded the drive to build a world-class convention center in the city of Chicago.
Under Colonel McCormick's leadership, the state endorsed construction of a permanent exhibition hall to host conventions and trade shows. Col. McCormick never lived to see his dream become a reality. The facility bearing his name opened in 1960, five years after his death.
Lakeside Center City and state leaders work together to get the new McCormick Place rebuilt in record time. The new East Building, designed by renowned architect Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates, opens with 522,000 square feet of exhibit space, 20 meeting rooms, five theaters and seven restaurants. A total of 51 expositions are held in the first year compared to the previous high of 38.
Bonds for McCormick Place were retired and the horse racing tax proceeds were shifted to retire bonds issued to construct downstate civic centers. The cigarette tax proceeds were shifted back to the State's General Revenue Fund, with the exception of the State earmarking $4.8 million a year in cigarette taxes into a Reconstruction Fund. The money was initially used to finance the conversion of a former R.R. Donnelly & Sons Co. printing plant into additional trade show exhibit space.
In an effort to keep pace with the demand of the market, State approval is given for the building of a $252 million in dedicated state tax revenue bonds supported by an increase in the hotel tax and earmarked for the construction of annex to McCormick Place (North Building) that contains more than 510,000 square feet of exhibit space and meeting rooms.
An additional $60 million of bonds were issued, backed be the State's sales tax, to finish completion of the McCormick Place North Building.
With the demand for convention space soaring, the newly built annex, McCormick Place North, comes into full use. The International Machine Tool Show (which is now known as the International Manufacturing Technology Show) is the first show to use the McCormick Place North Building. Building officially dedicated on May 8, 1987.
The Authority successfully refunded the 1984 and 1985 Bonds and authorized the restructuring of the existing escrow account, which provided approximately $27 million in savings to the taxpayers of Illinois.
McCormick Place operations are restructured, joining city-owned Navy Pier under the newly-created Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. A thirteen-member board is appointed by the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago. Restoration of Navy Pier is authorized by the Illinois General Assembly with a $150 million state bond issue.
• Also in 1989, new plans to expand McCormick Place complex are approved by the MPEA board.
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