Call it “convention center wars” or the “my-building-is-bigger-than-yours” affair.
New York and Chicago seem to be vying to house the largest meetings and event facility in the United States, a title now held by Chicago’s McCormick Place, with 2.6 million square feet.
New York plans to build a 3.8 million square foot facility that would replace the aging Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The $4 billion New York International Convention and Exhibition Center, as it’s being called, would be built in Queens on the former site of the Aqueduct racino, and would include up to 3,000 hotel rooms.
Time will tell. The first phase of the New York project would open in November 2014, at the earliest.
In the Windy City, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has combined the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau with the tourism-focused segment of the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. The move will save $1.3 million in administrative costs, the city says, allowing it to focus on goals that include attracting 50 million visitors per year by 2020 and moving into the Top 5 U.S. cities for overseas visitation (it now ranks 10th).
“Our ultimate goal is to make Chicago the premier destination for domestic and international business and leisure travelers,” said Don Welsh, who leads the combined effort.
The decisions in New York and Chicago appear to be coincidental but unrelated.