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Chicago Auto Show Revs Up In July

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CBS 2's Chris Tye reports it will be the first major convention to open in Chicago since the start of the pandemic.

Video Transcript

IRIKA SARGENT: July also gearing up to be the comeback month for conventions in Chicago. The Auto Show will make its return. A shot in the arm for car lovers and the convention business. CBS 2's, Chris Tye, is live at McCormick Place where this car show won't be like any we've seen before, Chris.

CHRIS TYE: It won't, Irika. You know, if the Auto Show can pull it off, could the housewares show be far behind? This really is a test balloon of sorts, a job creator, and as Governor Pritzker called it, a critical next step in Illinois' economic recovery. The Auto Show in this city goes back to 1901. And while it hasn't always been a certainty, it certainly looks like it will be back in 2021.

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Our goal, ladies and gentlemen, is to be fully open by July 4.

CHRIS TYE: 11 days after that Independence Day, which the mayor hopes will mean no more capacity limits in Chicago, the first major convention since pandemic began is set to rev up at McCormick Place.

- We have sold tickets already.

[LAUGHS]

CHRIS TYE: Those Auto Show ticket holders will notice the event will run in a different gear and a different time of year. July 15 through 19, instead of the traditional February slot. Last February's pre-pandemic show covered one million square feet. This year, 1/2 a million.

Visitors will have timed entrance windows to arrive. And while medical questionnaires are required to be filled out, proof of vaccination will not be required. The entire show will take place in the West Building, furthest from the lake, and will build out temporary outside space here along Indiana Avenue for exhibits and party areas.

JB PRITZKER: Setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come.

CHRIS TYE: Other industries will be watching, not just for safety, but to see if there's adequate manpower to pull it off in an economy where workers have been hard to find.

- Oh, I'm very confident. No concerns about having the amount of labor we'll need to pull this show together.

LORI LIGHTFOOT: Sending the clear message to the nation and to the world that Chicago is indeed back.

CHRIS TYE: A starkly different message than back 12 months ago. On this day in 2020, the city was finally disassembling those 500 beds set up at McCormick Place, which became an overflow site for COVID-19 patients that was never fully utilized. And they will limit capacity to 10,000 patrons at a time here for the July Auto Show in Chicago. And they say, several thousand jobs will be back to feed, not just the folks who are here and house them at the area hotels, but for all the ancillary industries as well. At McCormick Place, Chris Tye, CBS 2 News.