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July 12, 1999

Governor Signs Legislation Providing Improvements For McCormick Place And Navy Pier

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation allowing the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) to make needed capital improvements designed to keep and attract major trade shows to Illinois and to maintain the world-class status of Chicago's McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

Senate Bill 1010 increases the bonding authority of the MPEA by $270 million. The additional funds will be used to fund maintenance projects, customer initiatives and upgrades including a new lakeside restaurant and dedicated bus lane for McCormick Place and a new marina at Navy Pier.

"McCormick Place is the largest exhibition center in the nation and Navy Pier is the top tourist attraction in the state," Ryan said. "It is important to not only maintain, but also enhance these world-class facilities as we move into the next century. This bill will allow McPier to finance major improvements without burdening Illinois taxpayers."

Under the legislation, the MPEA will refinance $198 million in current bond debt to free up enough operating revenue to fund various customer initiatives including the recently announced bus subsidy program. This first-of-its kind program covers 50 percent of a trade show's busing expenses to and from downtown hotels and is an important part of the Authority's efforts to keep Chicago and Illinois leaders in the convention industry.

The remaining $72 million will be used for repairs and enhancements at MPEA facilities. Plans are underway at McCormick Place to construct a bus lane along the Metra tracks that will connect the North and Lakeside Center buildings of McCormick Place to the loop and downtown hotels. The busway will provide an express route for charter buses to carry convention attendees to and from McCormick Place.

Other improvements at McCormick Place include structural repairs to the Lakeside Center, an upgrade to its fire alarm system and expanded and improved restaurant facilities.

At Navy Pier, funds will be used to cover the cost of a 250-slip marina on the north side of the Pier. Other improvements include a third amusement ride, a light and waterwall show, lighting and landscaping upgrades and structural repairs to the Family Pavilion and Arcade.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority owns and operates historic Navy Pier, McCormick Place and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

"We would like to thank the Governor and the Illinois Legislature for their vote of confidence," said Scott Fawell, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. "Now we will be able to finance several projects that will keep major trade shows in Illinois and allow our facilities at McCormick Place and Navy Pier to continue to be two of the greatest economic assets in the state."

Senate Bill 1010 was sponsored in the Senate by Senators Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale; James "Pate" Philip, R-Wood Dale; and Margaret Smith, D-Chicago. House sponsors include Representatives Philip Novak, D-Bradley; Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa; Lou Jones, D-Chicago; Judy Erwin, D-Chicago; and Dan Burke, D-Chicago.


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