A mid-sized convention has reversed its intention to go to Chicago in 2013 and will instead remain in Las Vegas.
Car Care World Expo, staged by the International Carwash Association, had earlier planned to return to its home base after being in Las Vegas since 2006. It has already booked the Sands Expo Center for next year.
The association had planned to bring the expo, which attracted 5,500 last year, to Chicago’s McCormick Place in 2013 for the first time in more than a decade. But a legal dispute over state legislation to loosen work rules prompted the association to pull an about face and stay in Las Vegas.
“Until the work rules are on par with Las Vegas, it’s a no-go for us,” Eric Wulf, chief executive officer of the association, told the Chicago Tribune for a story on its website.
The exhibitors want to be allowed to assemble their booths with their own people — not only to avoid the expense of union labor but also to reduce the chance that something could go wrong while assembling and dismantling their specialized machinery.
Legislation enacted by the state of Illinois last year would have permitted this, but unions have tied it up in court and raised the possibility that it would not be in force in 2013.
The news elicited upbeat reaction from a Las Vegas convention official.
“We look forward to continuing our longtime relationship with the Car Care World Expo and helping them grow their show,” said Chris Meyer, vice president of sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “This reinforces that there is no better value for the experience than Las Vegas.”
The expo has been shrinking in recent years. This year’s attendance dropped to 5,500, down one-fourth from two years ago and nearly half from the peak of 10,500, according to association numbers.
Likewise, the number of exhibitors and square footage they rented, important income centers for the association, have declined in tandem.
The show previously had gone into the Las Vegas Convention Center, but this year downshifted to the smaller Sands.
Over the years, the show has rotated among various cities, including San Antonio, and Orlando, Fla. Staying in Las Vegas for a prolonged stretch is a recent change in policy.
The change in Illinois work rules, passed over Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto, was held invalid in by a federal judge this year. However, the judge has not decided whether to allow the new rules to stay in force during the appeal period.
The new rules allow conventions to “afford and justify Chicago, whereas in the past, cost was an issue,” Don Welsh, CEO of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, told the Chicago Tribune for its online story.
Six trade groups have filed papers supporting the new rules. But a pair of unions have contended that work rules must be changed through contract negotiations.