The 2003 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition meant the once-every-three-year deluge of folks from Business News Publishing’s corporate office in the Detroit area descending upon the handful of us BNP types living and working in the Chicago area.

There is a friendly rivalry between those of us in the two metropolitan areas — although finding much difference between the two can be tricky.

Neither of us can claim greatness with regards to professional baseball, football, or basketball. Detroit does have the decided edge when it comes to ice hockey, so we in Chicago claim that the only NHL hockey fans in our area are the 12,000 to 15,000 who go to each Black hawks home game.

Neither of us can claim any superiority with regards to weather — although Chicago is able to get its rotten weather one day before it is sent on to Detroit.

Our traffic congestions are both legendary. Here there is a difference. In the Chicago area we have to pay tolls every few miles to be stuck in traffic. Detroit does not have to do so — unless you want to cross the bridge or go through the tunnel to get to Windsor, Ontario. On those rare occasions when there isn’t gridlock, Chicago-area folks have a tendency to still drive fairly close to the speed limit. Detroit-area folks seem to forget there are any speed limits posted, or are traveling so fast that the postings are a blur.

For tourists, Chicago has its Chinatown, Detroit its Greek town. For fun-loving, two-fisted drinking, Chicago has Rush Street, and Detroit folks have Windsor.

But what Chicago can do that Detroit and most other metropolitan areas can’t is host a massive expo.

McCormick Place is large enough to host huge trade shows even if exhibitors have to deal with numerous unions. Hotels are plentiful — at a cost. Cabs can be found — some of which actually have drivers who will take you from Point A to Point B in a straight line.

Public transportation is top-notch, although you really have to be a local to use it well. Signage at stops and in buses and subways don’t mean much.

You just have to know that the 3 King Drive bus runs up and down Michigan Avenue and goes right to McCormick Place; that the subway that runs under State Street goes to Wrigley Field; that the elevated train above Wabash Avenue goes to Colicky Park; and that the subway that runs to McCormick does so far less often than any other public transportation, and then not necessarily on a schedule that coincides with any particular expo.

But the major, major difference between us in Chicago and those folks in Detroit is that we don’t care about the Michigan-Ohio State football game.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 03/03/2003