Chicago Boat Show to drop anchor in Rosemont after 92 years in the city

The Chicago Boat Show — the Midwest recreational boating industry’s marquee wintertime event held annually within the city of Chicago for 92 years — will set sail from its home on the lakefront and drop anchor in Rosemont, organizers said.

The convention will ship out from McCormick Place and dock at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Jan. 8-12, 2025.

Organizers said the move was prompted by a thorough market analysis, exhibitor demand and boater feedback that sought a closer location to where boaters live and boat dealers have their marinas, like SkipperBud’s and The Boat House on the Chain O’ Lakes.

The Chicago Boat Show annually showcases about 400 boats and watercraft at McCormick Place, but they’ll be sailing away and dropping anchor at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont next year. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“The more centralized Rosemont location positions the show for growth, accommodating the expanding boating population across a broader Chicagoland region, from the city and surrounding neighborhoods to the suburbs and exurbs of Chicago, and surrounding states,” said Darren Envall, vice president of Midwest boat and sport shows for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which runs the show.

The boat show joins other outdoor-themed conventions held annually at the 840,000-square-foot Rosemont convention center, including the Chicago RV & Camping Show, Chicago Golf Show and Travel & Adventure Show.

Christopher Stephens, executive director of the convention center, said village officials are pleased to welcome the boat show to town. He attributed the move to Rosemont’s convenient location, close parking and amenities.

The 2025 show — its 93rd, in a history that spans to Chicago’s old International Amphitheatre — will showcase hundreds of large and small boats for sale, from entry level personal watercraft and aluminum fishing boats, to wake sport boats and luxury cruisers, officials said.

Exhibitors are expected from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Boats large and small will be featured at the annual Chicago Boat Show — for the first time in Rosemont next January, after a long run at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times
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