McCormick Place's largest trade show has canceled its September event amid the coronavirus crisis, the biggest single blow yet to a convention center that has been gutted by the pandemic.
Piling onto the recent pain for the Near South Side venue, the McLean, Va.-based Association of Manufacturing Technology today called off its upcoming International Manufacturing Technology Show scheduled for Sept. 14-19.
Exhibitors at IMTS include a wide mix of suppliers to the plastics industry, such as the makers of additive manufacturing and electronic discharge machines and automation equipment.
The event, which is held in Chicago every other year, was slated to bring nearly 130,000 attendees to McCormick Place and account for more than 99,000 nightly stays at Chicago hotels, according to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns and operates the convention center. MPEA estimates IMTS' local economic impact, including ancillary spending on things like restaurants and transportation, to be a staggering $247 million alone.
The cancellation was somewhat expected, since Gov. JB Pritzker's five-phase plan to reopen the Illinois economy from a statewide stay-home order doesn't allow major conventions until the final phase. That would only come when a vaccine is developed or treatment options are readily available, "neither of which are expected to occur in the coming months," AMT Vice President Peter Eelman said in a statement on the association's website. "In light of these difficult and challenging circumstances, IMTS.... had to be cancelled. While this saddens us, the health and safety of our exhibitors and audience remains our top priority."
The announcement comes a few weeks after McCormick Place lost another one of its largest events to the coronavirus, the Radiological Society of North America's 2020 annual meeting.
Combined, the RSNA event—which was planned for late November and early December—and IMTS would have accounted for more than 200,000 out of 586,000 room nights that were expected from McCormick Place events during the second half of the year, according to MPEA. As of mid-May, the convention center had lost 95 events to COVID-related cancellations that would have accounted for 744,000 room nights.
"IMTS has been a great partner and important client for many years," MPEA spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty said in a statement. "We’re disappointed that they will not be coming to Chicago due COVID-19 this fall, but health and safety of our employees and guests is critical. We look forward to welcoming them back in 2022."