Things are looking up at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Jun 10, 2021

Todd Wessell | Journal & Topics

Following the destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and with the anticipated re-opening of life in general with Phase 5 starting this weekend, things are definitely looking up at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Since around March of 2020, activity at the huge facility has evaporated due to the pandemic that forced show and conference cancellations, the wearing of protective masks and social distancing to deter the spread of the virus.

But now with the distribution nationwide of COVID vaccines and a dramatic lowering of new coronavirus cases and deaths, show managers are beginning to think of revving things up.

“We’ll still do 30 some events,” said convention center Executive Director Chris Stephens on Tuesday. He explained that those events will consist of exhibit shows, both for the public and private.

This weekend, the convention center will see the return of the Franchise Show. Though not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, Stephens said it’s anticipated that 60 exhibitors will be on site to meet with hundreds of people who are interested in purchasing a franchise. And from July 2-4, the regular Anime Show returns to the convention facility where Japanese culture and animation along with video gaming will be showcased. Stephens said he expects show attendance to start picking up at that point.

“It takes time to plan an event and get commitments from visitors,” added Stephens. “We’ll have a pretty decent schedule. It’s a start.”