Thursday, March 09, 2006

Convention facilities

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

This is the latest check of the facilities that may be proposed by the cities planning to host the 2008 Democratic Convention. There are assumptions and estimates here which will be refined as the process moves forward. Note that in all cases, I am still assuming the convention will not be held in a "convention center". As I've said below, the Democrats seem to be requiring an "arena" type setting. Convention centers, being boxy and flat, provide very poor sightlines for the far-away seats, and rarely have the luxury suites that are needed to entertain the VIPs.

However, with some of the large convention centers now out there, I think this issue will need to be revisited.

Detroit, Minneapolis and San Antonio are listed in both the Arena and Dome sections.


  • Anaheim - Arrowhead Pond - Built 1993 - Capacity: 18,000 - Skyboxes: 84 - Adjacent Media Workspace: ??
  • Dallas - American Airlines Center - Built 2001 - Cap: 19,000 - Skyboxes: 142 - Adjacent Media Workspace: ??- Previous conventions: GOP '84 (but in Dallas Convention Center)
  • Denver - Pepsi Center - Built 1999 - Cap: 19,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: None
  • Detroit - Jou Louis Arena - Built 1979 - Cap: 20,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: Cobo Hall/Cobo Arena - Previous conventions: GOP '80
  • Las Vegas - Thomas & Mack Center - Built 1983 - Cap: 19,000 - Skyboxes: 30 - Adjacent Media Workspace: Cox Pavilion
  • Minneapolis - Target Center - Built 1990, Refurbished 2004 - Cap: 20,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: ??
  • New York- Madison Square Garden - Built 1968, Refurbished ~1995- Cap: 20,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: Farley Post Office?- Previous conventions: Dem '76, '80, '92, GOP '04
  • Orlando - TD Waterhouse Centre - Built 1989- Cap: 18,000 - Skyboxes: 26- Adjacent Media Workspace: Orlando Expo Centre
  • Phoenix - US Airways Center - Built 1992- Cap: 18,000 - Skyboxes: ??- Adjacent Media Workspace: Phoenix Convention Center
  • San Antonio - AT&T Center - Built 2002 - Cap: 19,000 - Skyboxes: ??- Adjacent Media Workspace: Freeman Coliseum
  • Detroit - Ford Field - Built 2002 - Cap: 40,000-50,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: Comerica Park?
  • Minneapolis - Metrodome - Built 1982 - Cap: 30,000-40,000 - Skyboxes: 115 - Adjacent media Workspace: ??
  • New Orleans - Superdome - Built 1975, Refurbished 2006 - Cap: 40-50,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: New Orleans Arena - Previous conventions: GOP '88
  • San Antonio - Alamodome - Built 1993 - Cap: 40-50,000 - Skyboxes: ??- Adjacent Media Workspace: San Antonio Convention Center
Notes: Previous conventions cited are in the last 50 years. Adjacent workspace must be able to be in any security perimeter. (Javits Center in NY would not qualify). Some arenas, such as MSG in NY and Target Center in Minneapolis, have smaller separate theaters inside the building which can be used as media workspace. Capacities for domes assume curtained setup.

The Farley Post Office (adjacent to Madison Square Garden) was used to provide media workspace at the 2004 Republican Convention. It's not clear if the space will be available for a 2008 convention.


DavidNYC said...

Out of curiosity, why do you list NYC as "no adjacent space", but then describe "The Theatre" at the bottom?

Matt said...

Arbitrary decision. I guess I was looking for a separate adjacent building to qualify for my listing. The fact is, every arena has extra space outside of the main hall that can be used for workspace. I was in the Garden for the '80 and '92 conventions, and in addition to putting media workspace in "The Theater" (or back then, "The Paramount, and before that, I think "The Forum"), the Rotunda (where they store all the animals during the circus) has a lot of space for media, as well as convention, workspace. (Putting the media where they usually keep the animals - sounds appropriate to me). Getting a handle on the "adjacent media workspace" issues will take some work.

Anonymous said...

just a thought...

some of the convention centers in these cities are actually larger than their arenas. wouldnt it be possible to design and build 'dome seating' in these spaces as well? it may be 'unconvential' thinking, but in the long run, it may actually make for better TV. it would be like having a huge soundstage that wouldnt have the infrastructure limitations that an arena would...

DavidNYC said...

(Putting the media where they usually keep the animals - sounds appropriate to me)

Hahah... no joke!

wouldnt it be possible to design and build 'dome seating' in these spaces as well?

Sounds expensive to me. You'd need tons and tons of bleacher-style risers in order to maintain good sight-lines, and free-standing bleachers might not be able to go high enough safely.

Also, there remains the luxury skybox issue. As far as I know, most convention spaces don't have such boxes.

Anonymous said...

well -- considering the dnc spent $13 million on construction for the fleet center in boston, im sure they can think of something...just thought it would be helpful to keep an open mind to possibilities...

josh said...

FYI, the Target Center in Minneapolis was not built in 2004; it opened in 1990, so it's a substantially older facility.

Matt said...

OK, thanks, I will correct the post.

The Matt said...

As for the Pepsi Center, I think there are 95 suites there. About 42 or so are a smaller size than those on the club level.

The Matt said...

In addition, if they Dems came to the Pepsi Center, my guess is that part of CU-Denver's Auraria campus could be a possibility for media space. That is if that is doable under the CU bylaws...might be some no political usage of CU resources or some such.

Anonymous said...

can you compare other requirements so we can see where all of the cities stand against each other...number of union hotels, etc...

that might give us a better understanding on how the different cities stand in each catergory


Matt said...

That's my goal over the next few weeks, to delve into the pros and cons of each city.

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