Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why Las Vegas dropped out

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The Las Vegas Sun has a delayed but detailed look at why Las Vegas didn't submit a bid for the 2008 democratic National Convention:

Las Vegas has grown into a world-class entertainment capital, but it apparently still hasn't emerged as the kind of place where the next president of the United States will be nominated.

The city was among 11 nationwide being considered by the Democratic National Committee to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. But Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman declined to bid on the prestigious political prize, telling Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean that the city's vast convention space was already all booked.

Las Vegas' decision to stick with its bread-and-butter regulars - the Las Vegas Convention Center will host the Men's Apparel Guild International of California (MAGIC) during the days that the Democrats will meet in August 2008 - rather than try for the chance to host the first national political convention in the city's 101-year history leaves one question unanswered:

Would the Democrats really have been willing to debut their 2008 presidential hopeful from Sin City? "That reputation certainly is out there. That certainly plays into it, at least on a national scale, for people who don't know that much about (Las Vegas)," said David Damore, an associate professor of political science at UNLV. A DNC spokesman declined to comment.

Goodman's office pointed to the potential economic fallout as the reason to pull out of the running for the 2008 Democratic convention. "We are honored to have been included on the list of potential host cities," the mayor wrote to Dean. "(We) hope you consider us for future dates for the Democratic National Convention."


Both parties are planning site visits this summer, with announcements expected late this year or next. In the meantime, political junkies in the blogosphere are touting the various sites and collecting readers' votes.

I think they're talking about us!

Las Vegas, with its 9.5 million square feet of convention space and 133,000 hotel rooms - the most in the nation - could have met the logistical needs of either party. The convention authority even had various sites in mind, including the Las Vegas Convention Center. But after considering Dean's invitation to bid, the city decided it had too much to lose.

The Democrats needed the convention hall for 75 days, and the Las Vegas Convention Center already booked 18 groups during that period, said Erika Yowell, a spokeswoman for the convention authority. "That is the clincher right there," she said. Those 18 groups are expected to bring $615 million in economic benefit to the city. MAGIC alone, which has the convention center booked from Aug. 17 to 30, is expected to bring in $183 million, based on the estimate of each conventioneer spending $1,531 during his stay, she said.

By comparison, the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston brought in $156 million and the 2000 convention in Los Angeles generated $147 million, according to the Democratic National Committee.


Nevada Democrats stood by the mayor's decision, and took the missed opportunity in stride. "It didn't work out this time, but Nevada is growing increasingly more important in the national political scene," said Kirsten Searer, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party.

"With the increased exposure that we're seeing, and we'll probably continue to see, people will see the full picture of Nevada. Does that include gaming? Yes. And that's important to our state. But there's so many other aspects to Nevada that people will see as Nevadans and our issues are more prominently played out in the national political debate."

Damore said chances were probably always slim at best that the Democrats would end up dropping balloons on their presidential nominee from the Strip. Nevada has been a swing state in recent presidential elections, going twice for Democrat Bill Clinton, then twice for Republican George W. Bush. But the Democrats might not have wanted to chance it on Election Day.

"Usually they go to really big cities or they go to friendly territories. So far, the Dems haven't won here (lately)," he said. Besides, he added: "Who wants to be here in August? It's kind of hard to get people to be here when it's 115.'' Then again, that just would have meant that there would be plenty of hot air inside and outside the convention center.

For cities that have huge convention business, such as Las Vegas or Orlando, I think it's clear that they will be better off financially with their normal trade shows.


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