The politics surrounding McCormick Place have become a soap opera. Last week, Mayor Richard Daley admitted that the convention center is gouging exhibitors -- which is the reason SPI decided to move the 2012 and 2015 NPE shows to Orlando, Fla. This week, Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times that the city could provide a new government subsidy to the convention center -- but only if the gouging stops. "Before you get all the subsidies throwing money at this, you first have to correct and rebuild the foundation," he told the newspaper. "Let's not talk about subsidies now. Let's first correct what you have in-house. ... First, re-organize what is happening at McCormick Place." McCormick is in a dire financial situation -- the convention business is already depressed, and now Chicago has lost a string of events to Orlando and Las Vegas. So now there's pressure growing in political circles for the city and state to help with some sort of subsidy. Authorities in Chicago say the city is at a disadvantage because other cities subsidize their convention centers. Meanwhile, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper reminds Sun-Times readers that McCormick already gets government aid. "Remember, McCormick Place already gets a 1 percent tax on downtown restaurants. It gets $1 from all taxicabs. It gets 2.5 percent from the Illinois Sports Authority. So, there's dollars going toward McCormick Place" already, said Roper, who does not support the concept of an annual subsidy.
City may help McCormick, if the gouging stops
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