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Report on 1999 Chicago Auto Show

Chicago Auto Show Attendance Record Signals Continued Market Strength

CHICAGO - The 91st Chicago Auto Show closed Sunday night with an all-time record attendance of 1,215,734, surpassing the previous mark by more than 135,000.

"Clearly this record is a harbinger of another strong year in the automobile industry," said show chairman Mike Cook. "The Chicago show has always been a bellwether of what will happen in showrooms in the near future. All any industry analyst would have to do is visit McCormick Place during our show to see the excitement generated by the products consumers see here. It's an astounding testimonial."

The Chicago Automobile Trade Association which producers the show, added a tenth day to the run of the show for the first time in its 99-year history.

"We weren't sure if the extra day would expand our attendance or just spread out the base we enjoy," said Cook. "But the numbers show that we have an attraction that appeals to an ever-growing group of consumers."

The ten-day celebration of the automobile was highlighted by more than a dozen vehicles introduced for the first time. More than a thousand other vehicles were displayed on the 840,000 sq. ft. Show floor, including production, concept, sport-utility and recreational categories.

In addition to the vehicles on display, the massive show was awash in manufacturer marketing researchers, again counting on the vast Chicago audience for reaction and input.

A researcher who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "There's no place else where we can get as broad a cross-section of automotive consumers as we do here. The Chicago show has always given us thetruest measure of our product."

"Reporters often ask what 'The Star of the Show' was," commented show general manager Jerry Cizek. "My answer is always the people who annually come to our show. We have almost a century of tradition helping to bring people to our doors and this year, in huge numbers, they showed that they love it ."

The show also enjoyed its biggest single-day attendance on Saturday, Feb. 20, with 199,374 show-goers passing through the doors of McCormick Place.

"Saturday started strong and it held that pace throughout the day," said Cook. "But once again the design of the new McCormick Place and our extensive traffic plan proved up to the task. It's not only the biggest room in the world, but the most people-friendly. This is an incredible facility."

Cizek was also quick to acknowledge the strong convention labor force which constructs and maintains the nation's largest auto show with remarkable speed.

"Our partners in the labor trades build this show in five days, when in other cities it takes weeks and weeks," said the 26-year-veteran show manager. "We couldn't be more pleased with the incredible job they do."

The CATA is the nation's largest metropolitan dealer organization with more than 800 members. Its dealerships employ over 56,000 people in the greater Chicago area with new vehicle gross sales in excess of $16.5 billion annually. The CATA has produced the Chicago Auto Show since 1935.

The following is the day-by-day attendance of the 1999 Chicago Auto Show

  • Feb. 11 First Look for Charity: 
  • Feb. 12 Friday   
  • Feb. 13 Saturday    
  • Feb. 14 Sunday    
  • Feb. 15 Monday    
  • Feb. 16 Tuesday    
  • Feb. 17 Wednesday    
  • Feb. 18 Thursday    
  • Feb. 19 Friday
  • Feb. 20 Saturday
  • Feb. 21 Sunday
  • Show total
  • 10,064
  • 69,588
  • 126,494
  • 166,556
  • 119,131
  • 70,818
  • 81,493
  • 81,721
  • 103,077
  • 199,374 *
  • 187,418
  • 1,215,734 **

* All time single-day show record

** All time show attendance record