Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More on Orlando's decision not to bid for the convention

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Orlando seems to have gone out of its way to publically explain in detail why they're not bidding for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Well, there's more, in an internal memo written to Orlando's mayor, Buddy Dyer:

City of Orlando

May 1, 2006


TO: Mayor Buddy Dyer

FROM: Jose Fernandez, Senior Advisor for Public Policy and Business Development

RE: National Political Conventions

Per your and Mayor Crotty's request, groups of local business and political leaders including members of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Florida Democratic Party, and Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association have been examining the possibility of hosting both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for 2008....

Through this due diligence, the following points have been raised.

1. The approximate $78 million price tag to host one event is an estimate based on initial research. Further estimates for satisfying the requirements/asks of the parties could move that figure closer to $100 million.

2. Both proposals require a number of luxury suites that cannot be accommodated at the TD Waterhouse Centre. Therefore, among the larger expenses is the cost to build a 15,000-seat arena complete with suites inside the Orange County Convention Center, then tearing it down after the event. This is estimated to cost $15 million.

3. Both parties are requesting access to the convention center for three to six months prior to the actual event in order to accommodate the setup. The center schedules events 10 years or more in advance, and canceling shows that have already been booked could possibly represent a loss of up to $200 million.

4. If the convention center was utilized for the political convention, the previously booked convention business would be displaced and the net gain of hosting the political convention could be minimal when all economic factors are taken into consideration.

5. The security budget is difficult to gauge and driven by both the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies. The initial estimate of $25 million for this line item would only increase, not decrease, as we move toward the 2008 event.

6. Energy (particularly driven by air conditioning) and production costs will be significant and may vary based on the economy and fluctuations in the pricing of fuel/oil in two years.

7. Hotels would need to block more than 20,000 rooms per convention through the end of the selection process representing a hold of one year. If the convention is not awarded this could severely affect rates for years to come.

8. As the travel and tourism industry is a staple of the Orlando economy, there is concern for the displaced leisure and business traveler to Orlando during the weeks before, during, and immediately following the political convention.

With all of the information gathered throughout this process, the consensus of the community organizations, the political groups, and City staff is that we do not submit a proposal for either Convention in 2008
Putting a political convention in a convention center is not going to make sense anymore. In addition to the cost of building the infrastructure inside the convention center, displacing already confirmed trade shows is going to eliminate any potential cost benefits from holding the convention, and the cost benefits aren't much anyway. If you hold the convention in an indoor arena or non-baseball dome, you're only displacing some rock concerts or similar events, and the impact is much less.