Adding more than just entertainment value, the Village of Rosemont’s Entertainment District not only attracts tradeshows and exhibitions to the suburban convention center, but also helps close sales between delegates.
Local residents consider Chicago to be ‘Rosemont’s playground,’ according to Bill Anderson, general manager, Rosemont Convention & Tourism Bureau. Yet Rosemont itself has become Chicago residents’ weekend getaway.
Catering to the desires of its exhibitors and attendees visiting Rosemont, officials transformed the Village of Rosemont into a posh dining and entertainment destination, maximizing profit margins from a small amount of space.
Conducting client surveys to understand the needs of its exhibitors beyond the show floor, facility officials at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center found that delegates desired varied entertainment options, such as bowling, shopping and nightlife.
“[Convention centers] must reinvent [themselves] as do other businesses – listen to clients’ needs and make smart decisions,” said Chris Stephens, executive director, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Fashion Outlets of Chicago
Recently opening the Fashion Outlets of Chicago and MB Financial Park at Rosemont, the Village has accomplished just that. Built on a site initially slated for a casino, officials found a way to please conventioneers and also attract locals from nearby cities and states.
“What was already a great location is now a great destination,” proclaimed Grant Bailey, assistant executive director, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Significantly adding to an exhibitor’s ROI, the developments foster continued networking after the show floor closes. According to Bailey, many exhibitors experienced a better return on their shows overall from conducting business both on and off the show floor at nearby eateries and entertainment venues.
“The entertainment segment is important [to exhibitors] to have something to do after shows,” said Chris Stephens.
Partnering with Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, exhibitors and attendees benefit from the “Show Your Badge” program. By presenting their show badge at participating area restaurants and venues, delegates receive exclusive special offers and savings at various dining locations such as McCormick & Schmick’s, or discounted show tickets at Zanies, a comedy club.
Both projects, the brainchild of Village of Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens, broke ground in December 2011. Completed in March 2012, the Fashion Outlets has been open since August 2013 while MB Financial Park’s first tenant moved in late spring of 2012.
“When Mayor Brad Stephens took over, he understood the value of tourism,” said Anderson.
Shoppers include families of delegates attending meetings and conventions in the Village. Rivaling Chicago’s own Magnificent Mile, spouses enjoy the outlet mall’s over 60 clothing brands within walking distance of both the facility and surrounding hotels.
Within its first month, the Fashion Outlets brought in excess of $850,000 in sales tax revenue during its opening month to the once quaint community of 4,000 residents. Ushering in shoppers from metropolitan Chicago and other Midwestern states, the shopping center carries luxury brands like Gucci, Tory Burch and Bloomingdales to the suburbs.
High-end shopping also means high-end customer service. Traveling directly from the airport, those with a lengthy layover or landing at O’Hare International Airport could make use of GO Airport Express, a shuttle service providing transportation to and from the airport to the outlet mall and even participating hotels. Partnering with Bags Inc., visitors may then check luggage upon arrival, where they can be delivered to the address of choice.
A collective of highly interactive visual art at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago stems from a partnership with The Arts Initiative from Chicago. Displayed throughout the outlet mall are works from 10 recognized contemporary artists.
MB Financial Park at Rosemont
Located directly across the street and within a five-minute walk from the Fashion Outlets is MB Financial Park at Rosemont, an entertainment district featuring first to the market restaurants and attractions.
The Park is poised to become a “mini-mile entertainment district,” according to Sarah Clemmensen, events manager, MB Financial Park at Rosemont.
Already projecting a positive 2014, the entertainment district will be at 100 percent occupancy in the coming year. Construction of iFLY indoor skydiving will keep the Park on the rise while Mayor Stephens signs the final tenancy with the Sugar Factory.
Pleasing the palate of Rosemont visitors and convention delegates, MB Financial Park features tastes from around the world. Among the many dining options to choose from are Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao, famed German microbrewery Hofbräuhaus, contemporary gastropub Park Tavern and Mexican cantina Adobe Gila’s.
During warm weather and Park events, the restaurants, lined up in a U-shape surrounding a central grassy park, open up their patios for an open-air feel akin to downtown Orlando.
Having been known for lavish restaurants, such as long-time favorite Gibson’s Steakhouse, Rosemont brought in middle tier eateries to expand the number of choices for visitors.
Securing Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill as its first letter of intent and eventual tenant helped generate interest among other operators. Building on the foundation of the planned casino, the Village moved forward to turn misfortune into triumph.
Catering to all demographics, the Park’s party atmosphere is most prevalent on weekends. Chicagoland’s 21- to 30-year-olds line dance at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and listen to live music at the Irish-inspired Five Roses Pub.
To truly be called a “pub,” a drinking establishment must be constructed in Ireland. Parts of the bar at Five Roses Pub were built in Belfast, Ireland, shipped to the Village of Rosemont and assembled on site. Red velvet wall coverings and a small performance stage turn the pub into a popular hangout. As a namesake in honor of the five decades that Mayor Donald E. Stephens served the Village of Rosemont, Five Roses Pub features the late founder’s portrait to commemorate his dedication to the community.
During the day, local business professionals hop on a local shuttle that transports the lunch crowd from surrounding business complexes to the Park for an afternoon meal.
Families and children skate on the winter ice rink and enjoy hot cocoa as well as numerous activities in the Park’s common area throughout the year.