Tuesday, December 06, 2005

2004 site selection - the final 4

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

This article in Campaigns & Elections was written in August '02 and has some fascinating information on the 2004 site selection process:

In deciding what city should host their party's 2004 convention, Democratic National Committee officials must juggle competing interests, including the host city's financial strength and the party's Electoral College prospects in that state.

After initially considering nearly a dozen potential host cities, DNC officials have winnowed the list down to four: New York, Miami, Boston and Detroit. Each has its advantages and drawbacks, and what factor proves decisive will not be known until after the November 2002 midterm elections.

Like the Olympics, playing host puts a city in the spotlight, but can also be cost prohibitive. The DNC's minimal qualifications for hosting the convention scared off a number of cities at the start of the selection process. The host must be able to accommodate 50,000 or more visitors, which includes 17,000 to 20,000 hotel rooms. In addition, there must be enough office space to host thousands of convention staff members, said DNC Communications Director Maria Cardona.

And of course the city must have an adequate arena to hold the four-day convention, which is likely to take place in late summer. The Republicans plan to hold their convention from Aug. 30-Sept. 2. The Democrats are looking at a slew of dates before then, and have considered the possibility of holding theirs at the same time, to deflect attention from the renomination of President Bush.

In deciding whether to pursue a bid to host the Democratic convention, cities must take into account what are expected to be substantial security costs. Already a major cost consideration before Sept. 11, several cities dropped their bids when it became apparent security could be extremely expensive.


These and other factors helped eliminate cities who the DNC invited to submit bids but didn't make the final cut, or decided to drop out of the running: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Pittsburgh.

Each city is playing up its own local credentials.

Miami-Dade County's application offers the use of more than 25,000 hotel rooms. Possible convention venues are the Coconut Grove Exhibition Center and the Miami Beach Convention Center

This is the county's second consecutive attempt to play host to the event, after making an unsuccessful bid in 2000. The 1972 Democratic and Republican conventions were held in Miami Beach.


Boston, too, is stressing its existing facilities in its bid to persuade members of the DNC advisory committee. Boston's 103-page bid was accompanied by appendices and other supporting documents, such as floor plans for the FleetCenter, where the convention would be held. Julie Burns, deputy chief of staff for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D), said the city has more than 25,000 hotel rooms, many close to the arena where the convention would take place.


In Detroit's bid, city officials are stressing gains made in a revival of downtown, which they contend would be extended if their city hosted the Democratic convention.

Detroit's official bid promotes itself as "a city that embraces the core values of the Democratic Party ... cosmopolitan ... a city built by immigrants... a city with a strong union presence ... a city with an entrepreneurial spirit and a dedicated workforce that produces the best America has to offer."

The city also touts its available space to hold the convention and what it calls friendly accommodations. "A combination of the Cobo Conference and Exhibition Center and Joe Louis Arena offers a venue located on the Detroit River with an international view of Windsor, Ontario," the bid says.


Figures provided by the DNC indicate host cities do experience a strong economic upswing: $70 million for Atlanta in 1988, $104 million for New York in 1992, $130 million for Chicago in 1996 and $147 million for Los Angeles in 2000.


The sheer cost of building or maintaining facilities has proved too much for some cities. Among cities where costs were a factor in not bidding was Pittsburgh, which said it could not afford to pay the estimated $350 million for a new convention center.

The politics of the Electoral College are almost certain to play a role in the selection process. Two of the cities, Miami and Detroit, represent swing states -- Florida and Michigan, respectively -- that are key elements to Democrats' strategy for winning the White House in 2004. But there also are advantages to hosting the convention in reliably Democratic states, such as New York or Massachusetts, because that could help turn out the party "base" of support on election day.

So the keys are financial support, enough hotel rooms, good site, good support space for DNC offices and media workspace, and, of course, political considerations, both straight electoral votes, as well as what message does the site send.

The note about the Democrats considering holding the convention the same week as the Democrats was news to me. It would have made no sense for the Democrats - they needed to introduce their candidate. People knew who Bush was, so I bet the Republicans would have gladly shared the week and the news coverage. But I'm sure this wasn't seriously discussed.


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