Cavernous — and empty — venues transforming into hospitals, staging areas

McCormick Place and United Center complexes will become critical spaces in combating pandemic

Chicago /
Mar.March 30, 2020 01:00 PM
McCormick Place and United Center (Credit: McCormick Place, United Center) 

McCormick Place and United Center (Credit: McCormick Place, United Center)

Two of Chicago’s biggest event venues, now empty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, will be repurposed into makeshift spaces for treating patients and readying supplies.

The 2.6 million-square-foot McCormick Place will be transformed into a field hospital that can handle about 3,000 patients throughout three halls. It’s expected to have 500 beds ready this week, followed by the rest in the next several weeks, according to reports.

At least two-dozen events scheduled to take place at McCormick Place have been canceled as a result of the outbreak.

The nearly 1 million-square-foot United Center, where the remainder of the Bulls and Blackhawks’ games have been suspended, will become a logistics hub for food distribution, first-responder staging and medical supply collection, the two teams announced last week on Twitter.

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the city, empty hotel rooms and formerly-shuttered hospitals are being used to hold and treat Covid-19 patients or those who have been exposed to the virus.

Illinois remains under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order at least through April 7. On Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot thought the order could extend deeper into the month.


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