Chicago Boat Show is Moving to Rosemont

The opportunity for the 20 hotels and their 6,003 rooms in Rosemont to increase their occupancy rates improved substantially with the announcement last week that the Chicago Boat Show is moving from McCormick Place in Chicago to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

For nearly a century, the boat show has been held in Chicago, first at the International Amphitheater and then along the lakefront at McCormick Place. The National Marine Manufacturers Association made the decision because it wanted to be closer to its client base in the suburbs. It is also next to O’Hare Airport and three interstate highways.

According to convention center Executive Director Chris Stephens, talks with show organizers about moving to Rosemont have occurred over the last few years. “This time it was serious,” he said.

The convention and trade show business in Rosemont has seen a major turnaround since COVID hit in 2020. Stephens estimated that 70 trade and public shows will be held at the convention center in 2024.

The boat show will be held in Rosemont for the first time Jan. 8-12, 2025. It will occupy approximately three-fourths of the center’s 840,000 sq. ft. that includes all of the first floor. Exhibited will be boats and equipment of all shapes and sizes.

The boat expo, added Stephens, will not be the biggest show in Rosemont. In 2024, shows that will take up all of the convention center’s space include the National Sports Collectables Show, beauty shows, the Label Expo and Private Label Expo. The latter two are trade shows and not open to the public.

“We’ve had a really strong schedule, especially since coming out of COVID,” said Stephens. “We didn’t lose many events. We’ve bounced back pretty strong.”

Hosting conventions and trade shows brings large numbers of people into Rosemont to stay at hotels, dine, shop and enjoy entertainment. The village, like most every other municipality in the country, taxes stays at hotels. The total tax implemented locally is 14% with 6% going to the state of Illinois, 7% to the village, and 1% to Cook County.

“We always help out our shows by accommodating them with hotel rooms. They usually tell us the number of rooms they need and even specify certain hotels and their proximity to the convention center” which is on River Road near Balmoral Avenue, said Stephens.



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