McCormick Place, Chicago’s convention center, is one of the largest such facilities in the U.S., with some 2,670,000 square feet of exhibition space. If you attended C2E2 last year, you’ll remember how long a walk it was from the hotel to the Lakeside Center.
This year, C2E2 is located in the West Building, located across the street from the hotel and right next to the city bus stop.
Here’s the guide for the West Building. The floorplan menu is located at the upper right of the screen, and allows access to floorplans for each level of the building. West Level 3 is where most of the action will be found! According to C2E2’s own website, the Con will be held in Hall F1. I suspect that the IGN Theater will be placed in the Skyline Ballroom.
Looking at the floor plans for Level Three, there aren’t many toilets. There is one located at the back of the Hall, near the Podcast Pavillion. There might be one in the Overlook Cafe located between Artist Alley and the Tattoo Pavillion. There is one up front near the entrance to the Hall.
Outside the Hall, there are numerous options. There’s a small restroom on the Central Concourse, which will probably be too busy. Instead, walk around the Skyline Ballroom, where it says “Pre-Function” on the map. There are five restrooms located along the hallway, and if there’s access, there’s a sixth located on the northeast corner near the parking lot entrance.
Level One has five toilets evenly spaced throughout the floor. Level Two, with less public space, has three toilets. The one near the Hyatt meeting rooms will probably be the best choice, as it is not connected with the rest of the public areas on that floor. Level Four has four evenly spaced restrooms, I recommend the two on the far ends of the floor, as these are more remote.
The Convention Welcome Letter mentions free Wi-Fi in all areas of the convention center. As they say on TV, “consult your local listings”. There might be a charge. No idea where the outlets are located. You might want to wander over to the South Building, which won’t be occupied that weekend.
There are a few options in the West Building.
The Food Court on the Second Floor, which seems a bit small.
- 270 Degree Restaurant – Full Service – Level 2
- West Food Court – Carry Out, Dine In – Level 2
Food concepts include Mediterranean/pizza oven, Asian, gourmet burgers, salad bar, rotisserie and gourmet sandwiches.
- Au Bon Pain – Carry Out – Level 2 West
Featuring fresh gourmet breads, pastries and made to order sandwiches and salads.
Elsewhere in the same building:
- Starbucks West – Carry-Out , Seating – Level 3
- Starbucks “We Proudly Brew” – Carry-Out; Level 1
- Overlook Café – Cafeteria, Seating – Level 3, F Hall
Located on the show floor, featuring hot and cold sandwiches, salads and beverages.
If the West Building is similar to the Lakeside Center, there will probably be vending machines located on the first level near the transportation center.
McCormick offers a variety of options within the larger center. Within the South Building, on Level 2.5, is a larger food court. It’s located below the exhibition hall, but it seems a bit hidden. There’s another on that same level in the North Building. McDonalds might be the cheapest option that weekend.
Of course, there’s always the Hyatt, which has fast and slow food available, as well as the CBR Bar. (Finally, an official Bar-Con!)
Since this is a convention center, expect high prices and long lines.
Myself, a seasoned convention pro, recommends the tried and true: breakfast bars. Buy a box of non-chocolate-covered cereal bars from your local grocery/deli/convenience store. Individually wrapped, they are not messy, taste delicious, are nutritious, take up little space in your backpack, are lightweight, and, most important, are quite affordable (about $4 a box). You can snack as you wander the aisles. Grab a bottle of soda pop as well. Refill with water once it’s empty. You’ll save time and money (which you can then spend on the cool stuff).
C2E2 has also created a coupon flyer for area restaurants, bars, and events! The South Building has a concierge/information desk located right across from the Hotel entrance. I was impressed last year… they know the best spots!
According to the McCormick calendar, there will be one other convention that weekend: The Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference. Their site lists the dates as March 20-22, so there might not be much overlap. The President (Clinton) and Queen (Latifah) will be speaking, as will Blake “Toms Shoes” Mycoskie. My brother will be one of the 4000 professionals attending (he works for the Morris Animal Foundation), so I’ll ask him how it went.
Got any other suggestions, tricks, secrets you want to share? Post below!