Monday, March 06, 2006

Could the convention help Orlando get a new arena?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Orlando's facility issue: Orlando is planning to propose the Orange County Convention Center in their bid, as the TD Waterhouse Centre (formerly the Orlando Arena) does not meet some of the facility requirements. But the Democrats have made it clear they want to be in an arena. What's wrong with the TD Waterhouse Centre? Well JF on his Orlando Arena blog has been pushing for a new arena, and confirms that the TDWC only has 26 skyboxes "all situated well above the optimal viewing area for a VIP". But JF also hopes that the convention might help get a new arena approved:

This jumps to the idea of a new arena, while it wouldn’t be built specifically for this convention, the convention itself could be a catalyst in building a new arena in Orlando/Orange County. Both leaders know a commitment to the new arena could solidify their respected bids and with a new facility by 2008 the city/county could have a beautiful venue open up that could enhance the area as a major artery in the American infrastructure.
I'm not sure how long it takes to build a new arena, but I would think a new arena would have to be started before the Democrats make their final site selection, and there are no signs that's going to happen.


Anonymous said...

when you said the democrats 'made it clear' that they wanted thier convention in an arena...i was wondering where you got everything ive read, they always say 'convention center, arena or stadium' can you clarify? why would they even leave the option open if they are ruling out venues that arent arenas?

Matt said...

You raise a good point. My primary source is from a DNC document, titled "2008 Democratic National Convention Invitation to Participate in the Request for Proposal Process Summary of Preliminary Requirements", which was a document sent to all cities back in November. While the document does start by saying "An arena, convention hall or enclosed dome stadium with at least 650,000 square feet of usable space", the next paragraph says:

"A “bowl” seating area of at least 340,000 square feet and seating capacity in a basketball game configuration for at least 25,000 participants with access for persons with disabilities. All of the seating must have unobstructed site lines once modifications and construction are completed."

I don't see how any convention hall could meet the requirements of 25,000 (or more realistically, 20-22,000) and have reasonable sightlines for the far-away seats.

Also, there was a comment or blog somewhere (I can't find the link right now) that had some information on the 2004 site selection process that said that the convention halls were definitely ruled out.

The last time the Democrats were in a convention hall was in 1984 in San Francisco. However, convention halls have grown since then, so maybe the larger ones could fit the convention? I'll have to take look at this again.

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