Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Democratic Convention Quotes:

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Here are some recent quotes on various cities bidding for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

  • Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, on Denver's chances: “I was more skeptical in the beginning. I think our chances now are 50-50, and maybe even a little better.”

  • Denver Host Comittee Co-Chair Steve Farber: “I think it's not only Denver's turn, I think that the Democrats are focusing and should focus to the west if they want to win the presidential election. They have to start picking up some western states.”

  • Political Analyst Eric Sondermann: “They're looking at which city has its act together in terms of hotel rooms and convention facilities. Bottom line they're looking at which city's going to provide the best photo op. The same logic that took the Republicans to New York City post Sept. 11 could take the Democrats to New Orleans, post hurricane Katrina."

  • Katherine Archuleta, chief operating officer for Denver: "I'd say we're the front-runner for the convention. The city is prettier than New York, it's more fun than Minneapolis, and the weather's better than in New Orleans."

  • St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman: "We will get one of these conventions, I am sure."

  • Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: "We are planning to spend a significant amount of time showing … not only that the venues work, but that this community can lay out the red carpet or the blue carpet, whichever party it applies to."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Orleans tourism update

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The New Orleans tourism industry is slowly coming back, but issues remain, and the first big trade show takes place in 4 weeks. The Orlando Sentinel reports on the industry:

Hotels in the New Orleans metro area are running at about 79 percent occupancy for the first quarter of this year, a seemingly healthy, but misleading rate because the number of hotel rooms available is down nearly 30 percent.

The city has 27,000 hotel rooms, about 70 percent of its total before the hurricane, and 2,600 restaurants.

Officials said New Orleans and Louisiana are ready to handle more tourism traffic. While the region's service-industry work force was initially depleted because so many people fled the flooding, jobs and workers are starting to come back -- as are volunteers and tourists.
I've heard anecdotal evidence that a shortage of service-industry workers was very obvious during the DNC meeting in New Orleans in April.

The first major test of New Orleans' tourism infrastructure is coming up later this month:
Belinda Lazaro, public relations manager at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter, said she and many others are looking forward to the June 22-28 American Library Association conference.

"We'll have 30,000 librarians. It's our first citywide convention since Katrina," Lazaro said.

I would expect the DNC will be very interested to see how well this and other major trade shows go.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Minneapolis news roundup

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I have confirmed that Minneapolis/St. Paul is proposing three facilities for the Democrats (and Republicans) to choose from: the Metrodome and Target Center in Minneapolis and the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. I'll look at the pros and cons of each venue in a future post.

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak talked up the Twin Cities' prospects this afternoon from the balcony of the new Guthrie Theater overlooking St. Anthony Falls.

Representatives of the Democratic National Committee will make a three-day visit here starting June 26 to review the cities' joint bid, the mayors said.

The two leaders pledged to showcase the cities, their attractions and their amenities.

"As a Democrat or a Republican, if you really look at the next presidential election, you can see that it will be decided on the Mississippi River in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Louisiana," Rybak said. "We haven't had a chance like this in 100 years, and no one will work harder than we will to get one of these conventions."

Coleman agreed, saying, "We will continue to work together to show we are an ideal location for the DNC convention. I'm confident the DNC site visit will show our facilities are second to none and prove that we have a lot of excitement in Minnesota for the chance to host the convention."

And from a Minneapolis press release:
Hosting a national political convention is considered extremely valuable for a city – both economically and for visibility. According the Democratic National Committee, the 2004 Democratic National Convention held in Boston resulted in an economic impact of $156 million.

“Each would fill nearly all hotel rooms in the entire Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, not to mention spill a large amount of spending into our hospitality and service businesses throughout the cities and state,” said Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association President & CEO Greg Ortale. “A national political convention would rank among the largest events the metro area has ever hosted – rivaling the 2001 NCAA Final Four in terms of size and impact.”

Both conventions are expected to cost in excess of $50 million – a combination of cash, goods and in-kind services. The majority of the cash and goods needed would come from private and corporate donations on a local and national level, with other in-kind support from each city, county and the State. Beyond hard dollars, the immeasurable value can come from the spotlight shining on the city.

“In terms of generating national and international exposure for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, hosting a national political convention would be beyond our wildest dreams,” said Saint Paul RiverCentre Convention & Visitors Authority President Karolyn Kirchgesler. “It would draw a massive amount of national and international media attention, as the events are heavily covered via print, broadcast and web-based media outlets.

Front page Daily Kos Poll

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Kos just put a poll on the front page, so it will get a lot more votes than my poll.

Results at 10:00 PM (EDT):

New Orleans: 36%
Denver: 34%
Minneapolis: 21%
New York: 7%

I think the only thing consistent in all these polls is that New York has always been last.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Denver Host Committee Co-Chair: Denver Well Positioned

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Lou Kilzer of the Rocky Mountain News has been all over the Denver convention story the last few days, and he has more today:

Steve Farber [Denver Host Committee Co-Chair], a Denver lawyer with strong national ties to the Democratic Party, said he thinks that Denver is well positioned to win the nod. "There's no room for place or show," said Farber, who co-chairs the committee trying to bring the convention to Denver.

Farber said that a Denver convention aims not only at nudging a red state into the blue column but also at pushing a whole region in that direction. "This is the West's Democratic convention," he said. "For Democrats to win, they have to start focusing on the West."

Costs for the winning bidder could be steep. Denver's host committee estimated that $72 million could be spent on the event, although the final negotiated figure likely will be less, said Katherine Archuleta, the city's chief operating officer.

Most of the price will be picked up by funds raised by the host committee, but security costs could be $25 million, the committee estimated. Most of the police costs could be reimbursed by the federal government, Archuleta said.

Whatever the final price tag, benefits also could be major. The convention will attract about 35,000 attendees renting 15,000 rooms for several days, the city estimates.

Boston, host of the 2004 convention, estimated that the convention boosted the economy by $163 million, said Richard Scharf, president of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. He also said the whole world would be watching Denver, something that could bring incalculable benefit. That is, he conceded, unless it turns out like Chicago's 1968 convention - the scene of widespread protests and police clashes.

Estimates of economic effects are usually suspect, but for cities like Denver and Minneapolis, hosting a convention can provide longer term benefits that are hard to quantify.

Facilities requirements

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Some more information is available on the facilities that will be required to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Both parties have issued extensive "requests for proposals" to host cities, detailing everything from requirements for running water to the need for 3,000 square feet of office space and 18 parking spaces — provided free of charge — for a year before the convention opens.

The Republicans issued a 26-page list of requirements for the host city's "Committee on Arrangements" to fulfill. The Democratic version, addressed to "Host Committee," runs 84 pages.

St. Paul officials declined to release a copy of the bid document, which is nearly two inches thick. An aide to Oberstar said the document does not contain hard money figures, but lists such things as convention venues, hotel availability, transportation resources and other information.

The Democrats, for example, require 17,000 hotel rooms within 30 minutes of travel to the convention site. All hotels have to commit 80 percent of their rooms. For their part, the Republicans require 20,000 first-class rooms.

Nothing really new here, but that requirement for 18 parking spaces is sure to cause some cities to drop out!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Daily Kos diary and poll

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Daily Kos diary and poll on choices for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Update 3: To my friends in Minnesota who have been flooding the poll, you can stop now.

The latest results (1513 votes):

Minneapolis: 61%
Denver: 24%
New Orleans: 11%
New York: 2%

Update 2: Much to my suprise, the diary entry and poll has been linked to by a number of sources, and even today, the article in the Rocky Mountain News was linked to by ABCs The Note, which should bring more people to the poll. Also, there's clearly been a effort by supporters of Minneapolis (nothing wrong with that, I think there was a push for Denver yesterday), and the poll has changed a bit:

Wednesday results (692 votes)

Denver: 50%
New Orleans: 22%
Minneapolis: 21%
(received 85 of the last 112 votes)
New York: 5%


Tuesday results (580 votes):

Denver: 56%
New Orleans: 26%
Minneapolis: 11%
New York: 5%

Update: The Kos diary was linked to by the Rocky Mountain News, and, according to the article, results of the poll were announced to the Denver City Council by Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, Denver Host Committee Co-chair, a reader, commentator, and sometimes subject of this blog.

Should conventions be held in Gulf-coast cities?

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One of the reasons people have cited for not holding the 2008 Democratic National Convention in New Orleans is "What happens if a hurricane hits"? Well, with Tampa Bay being a major contender for the GOP convention, lets not forget that the following cities have hosted conventions in the past: Houston - 1992, New Orleans - 1988, Miami Beach: 1968 and 1972 (both Dem and Rep). The fact is, the odds of a specific city being hit with a hurricane during a specific week is fairly low, and I don't think we can expect all Gulf Coast cities to just shut down their tourism business during hurricane season. The Tampa Bay bid for the 2008 GOP convention says:

the chance of a hurricane directly hitting the area while the convention is in town in early September 2008 is too small to affect the decision.
There are good reasons for the Democrats to pick a site other than New Orleans in 2008, but chances of a hurricane should not be one of them. (And neither is the state of New Orlean's tourism infrastructure, a point I will re-address in the future).

Quick GOP update

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The deadline to submit bids for the 2008 Republican Convention was yesterday, and four cities submitted bids: Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, and Tampa/St. Pete. Which means Minneapolis and New York are bidding for both conventions. Since the conventions are in back-to-back weeks, there's no way for the conventions to be in the same city, so each either city would instantly drop out of the bidding for one convention if they got the other. But New York City Mayor Bloomberg knows the odds of New York getting the GOP convention again is small:

"Typically conventions do not go to the same city two years in a row, but we're not a city of quitters," Mr. Bloomberg said at the opening of a Fairway market in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

Although it is too early to judge any city's chances, said Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the Republican Party, it is not unusual for a city to play host to back-to-back conventions. The Republicans went to Miami Beach in 1968 and 1972, he said, while the Democrats were in New York in 1976 and 1980.

The Democrats are supposed to announce their city in the fall, and the GOP early next year. But if both parties are focused on one city, it could get interesting. I don't think that will happen for New York. I would think Tampa would be the frontrunner for the GOP convention, and Minneapolis should also be more attractive to the GOP then going back to New York again. But if both cities decide they really want to go to Minneapolis, then there could be a race to announce first.

Update: Denver Republicans briefly considered a late bid for the convention, but they've decided against it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Facilities Overview

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Here is an overview of the facilities that may be proposed by the four cities bidding to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. There are assumptions and estimates here which will be refined as the process moves forward. (Updated to include St. Paul XCel Center).

  • Denver - Pepsi Center - Built 1999 - Cap: 19,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: None - Previous conventions: Dem 1908
  • Minneapolis/St, Paul - Previous conventions: GOP 1892
    • Target Center - Built 1990, Refurbished 2004 - Cap: 20,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: ??
    • St. Paul - XCel Center - Built 2000 - Cap: 18,000 - Skyboxes - 84 - Adjacent Media Workspace - RiverCentre Convention Center, Roy Wilkins Auditorium Complex
    • Minneapolis - Metrodome - Built 1982 - Cap: 30,000-40,000 - Skyboxes: 115 - 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
  • New Orleans - Superdome - Built 1975, Refurbished 2006 - Cap: 40-50,000 - Skyboxes: ?? - Adjacent Media Workspace: New Orleans Arena - Previous conventions: GOP '88
Minneapolis is proposing the Metrodome, the Target Center, and/or the XCel Center for the convention.

Notes: 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.

New Orleans and New York are in

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We have a confirmed Final Four. From New York Newsday:

After submitting a bid to the Democratic Party last week, along with New Orleans, Denver and Minneapolis, New York sent one to the Republicans on Monday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat until he switched parties in 2001, said Monday that playing host to the presidential conventions has "nothing to do with politics" and everything to do with economics. The Republican convention in New York in 2004 brought thousands of delegates and protesters to town, generating millions of dollars in extra business. The city contends that the economic benefits far outweighed the time and money spent on logistics and security.

The mayor said the Big Apple doesn't expect to win both bids and three days isn't long enough turnaround to set up for two huge events.

The Democratic Party, which held its 2004 convention in Boston, will make site visits at the four cities this summer before announcing its choice in the fall, a spokesman said.
I'll start to analyze each city's bid in future posts.

New Orleans, New York in, Las Vegas out?

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From Democracy in Action's P2008 Race for the White House,

Denver, Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York City have submitted proposals
and Las Vegas is out:
Vince Alberta, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, states that the city decided not to submit a proposal.
But a source has told me that only Denver and Minneapolis have submitted bids. I'll try to get this clarified.

(Thanks to the commentor who brought this to my attention).

No news from Las Vegas, New Orleans or New York

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When cities have bid for conventions in the past, they ususally publicize their efforts. In 2004:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the City's bid to McAuliffe in a ceremony in the main lobby of Grand Central Station on the afternoon of April 11
There was no ceremony for New York on Friday, and no news at all from Las Vegas, New Orleans or New York. Now the deadline for the GOP is today, so maybe that might delay an announcement. And the DNC could easily extend the deadline, and this would make sense for New Orleans. But with every passing hour, the likelihood that only Denver and Minneapolis submitted bids for the convention grows.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nagin wins - but did he remember to send in a bid?

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As I wrote earlier this week, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has been in a huge election battle to win re-election, and therefore I would have been suprised if New Orleans got their bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention summited by the deadline on Friday. And there's been absolutely no news if New Orleans submitted a bid. Well, now that Nagin has won, he and the city should be able to turn their attention towards towards the convention, and I would think the DNC would extend the deadline given the circumstances.

On the other hand, there are those who think that the Nagin victory will ensure that New Orleans does not get the convention. We shall see.

Minneapolis cost considerations

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The St. Paul Pioneer Press provides some of the cost consderatons that went into Minneapolis' bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

The application process is extensive and the ramifications of getting a convention involve big money. Backers of the Minnesota bids said a convention here would cost "in excess of $50 million." By comparison, a report filed with the Federal Election Commission said New York's 2004 Republican convention cost about $154 million, including $54 million for police and other services. Almost all of the money was raised by private and corporate donations and most of the police services were reimbursed through federal funds.

The Democrats were in Boston, where $48 million was spent on the convention and another $35 million was spent on police services.

For the most part, fund-raising for political conventions is without the kind of limits that are placed on election contributions. For example, the election commission report said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is independently wealthy, donated $5 million in cash for the Republican convention and paid $2 million more to cover some other expenses.

While local officials tout the exposure such a national convention would bring, as well as filling area hotels and restaurants, the economic impact of a convention on the host city also is subject to debate. Boston officials estimated that the Democratic convention resulted in a $156 million windfall to the local economy, but retailers complained that the heavy security and other factors resulted in a loss for them, not a gain.

Although network news coverage of recent conventions has declined — it was only about one hour per night on the last three nights in 2004 — local boosters say the news exposure would be invaluable.

"In terms of generating national and international exposure for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, hosting a national political convention would be beyond our wildest dreams," said Karolyn Kirchgesler, president of the St. Paul RiverCentre Convention and Visitors Authority.

Cities like Minneapolis and Denver, which may be looking for that national and international exposure, may be more willing to consider the convention costs as an investment in the cities future.

Friday, May 19, 2006

DNC expected to announce final list of cities in next week or two

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From the AP:

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Democratic leaders are expected to announce a narrowed list of host-city candidates next week.
But in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Rybak says it will be in two weeks:
For Democrats, the first cut of bidding cities will occur within the next two weeks, Rybak said. If the Twin Cities makes the cut, the city will be visited by national party officials later this summer. After that, the potential cities will be winnowed and the contenders will be asked to submit a "Best and Final Offer." A final decision will be announced in November or early December.
Whether its one week or two, I'll have the information here as soon as its available.

Who's in, who's out

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To summarize, Denver and Minneapolis have officially submitted proposals to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and Detroit is now out. We're waiting to hear from Las Vegas, New Orleans and New York.

Denver submits bid

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Denver officially submitted its bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention today. From the Denver Post:

Denver officials submitted a formal bid to attract the 2008 Democratic National Convention on Thursday, while labor leaders vowed to continue to fight the effort unless Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper meets their demands.


Steve Farber, a lawyer who is co-chairman of the committee that submitted the formal bid Thursday, said he doubts labor's opposition will harm Denver's chances. "I think our chances our fantastic," Farber said. "We're out front and in the lead, and it's ours to lose. I've been told that by some folks at the DNC."


Denver is one of six U.S. cities in the running to host the August 2008 convention, which would draw an estimated 35,000 people to town and would have an estimated economic impact of at least $160 million. Also vying for the 2008 convention are Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York City. [Detroit has since dropped out - Matt]

Denver was one of three finalists for the 2000 convention. The city bid again in 2004, but then- Mayor Wellington Webb pulled Denver out of contention because of security concerns. The Democratic National Committee will pick the finalists, and then Howard Dean, the DNC chairman, will make a final choice after the November mid-term elections.

Much of the article was focused on Denver labor leaders' concern about the bid, and I'll focus on that in another post.

Detroit drops out

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In a suprising development, Detroit announced that they won't be submitting a bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. From the Detroit Free Press:

The Democrats are out, but the Republicans may still have a future in the city of Detroit, at least for the 2008 political convention season. A city official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Thursday that Detroit won't make today's deadline to bid for the Democratic convention.


But Detroit still may try to make a case for the Republican National Convention, which will run Sept. 1-4, 2008, said the official, who didn't want his name revealed until the city decides on the GOP convention.


Monday is the deadline to apply to host the GOP convention. Republicans generally require fewer hotel rooms for a convention.

Citing Michigan's and the city's struggling economy, Detroit couldn't get the financial commitments needed to meet today's deadline for the Democratic convention, the official said. Costs to host the convention range from $30 million on up, said Ed Sarpolus, a political consultant and pollster from Lansing. Most of that money traditionally has come from corporate sponsors. "How do you raise money for a partisan issue?" Sarpolus said. "It's not a question that the city can get dressed up for it. They proved that during the Super Bowl."

I would bet they don't make a bid for the Republican convention either, but are giving themselves the weekend to make sure.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Minneapolis/St. Paul to submit combined bid - updated

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Today at a 8 AM press conference, Minneapolis and St. Paul will announce combined bids for both the Republican and Democratic 2008 National Conventions. From the Star-Tribune:

Setting aside their storied rivalry, Minneapolis and St. Paul are banding together to bring the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions to the Twin Cities. If either bid is successful, Minnesota would be witness to its first presidential nomination since Republicans gave incumbent Benjamin Harrison the nod in 1892 at a convention hall in Minneapolis. The cities' cash registers also would ring up a $150 million windfall, according to a study released after Boston hosted the Democratic party bash in 2004.

The bids offer the parties three venues -- the Metrodome and Target Center in Minneapolis and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul -- along with a total of 20,000 hotel rooms in both cities. The fact that some of those rooms would be far from the convention venues could be a problem, but local boosters say conventioneers were widely scattered in New York City during the 2002 GOP Convention.

Mayors R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman will jump-start the bids at a joint news conference this morning in Minneapolis, joining a list of heavy hitters from both parties. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, the state's DFL dean, will serve as honorary co-chairman with former Republican U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz. U.S. Reps. Martin Sabo and Jim Oberstar will hand-deliver the Democratic bid today.

Broadcast and publishing magnates Stanley Hubbard and Vance Opperman, major fundraisers for Republicans and Democrats respectively, are leading the effort and offering bipartisan boosterism. "The joint bid will be our strength," said Bob Hume, spokesman for Mayor Coleman. "When we work together, we have a higher chance of success."

Light-rail trains between the Metrodome and Target Center could play well with party planners, said Greg Ortale, president of the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association.

Minneapolis has bid several times for the conventions, most recently in 1998 for the 2000 events and for the 2004 Republican convention. Ortale said Jesse Ventura's third-party victory in that year's gubernatorial race "knocked us out of both, but showed they viewed us a qualified venue."

Brass from both parties are expected to visit the cities this summer, said Rybak spokesman Jeremy Hanson. "My understanding, both officially and informally, is we're very strong candidates for both conventions," he said.

From the Press Release:
What: Saint Paul and Minneapolis plan to submit joint bids to host the National Democratic and Republican Conventions in 2008. The bids were developed jointly by the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Convention and Visitors organizations and will be submitted on Friday, May 19th. Mayors of both cities will announce details at a press conference on the Minneapolis Riverfront, near the site of the old Expo Center, where the Twin Cities hosted its only national political convention back in 1892.

When: Friday, May 19, 8:00 a.m. Where: Nicollet Island Pavilion, near downtown Minneapolis 40 Power Street, Minneapolis

Who: Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T Rybak, Minnesota GOP Chair Ron Carey, Minnesota DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt, Karolyn Kirchgesler, President & CEO of the Saint Paul RiverCentre Convention & Visitors Authority, Greg Ortale, President & CEO of the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dallas explains their decision

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Dallas was always been a bit conflicted about whether they were going to bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, so it was not suprising when they dropped out last weekend. Today's Dallas Morning News has more on the decision:

Don't expect the nation's political parties to party here just yet.

Dallas will not submit bids for either the Democratic or Republican national conventions in 2008 and will instead look toward hosting a convention in 2012, City Manager Mary Suhm says.

The decision comes after both the Republican and Democratic national committees this year invited Dallas to submit convention proposals. The Democrats' proposal deadline is Friday and the GOP's is Monday, party officials said.

"The city would be honored to host either convention, but the city really isn't in a position for 2008 to host them," said Phillip Jones, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Doing it in 2012 would make a lot more sense for a number of reasons. It would be a much better opportunity to showcase Dallas."

Atop Mr. Jones' why-2012-is-better list: more robust development in downtown Dallas and the Trinity River Corridor, and the expansion of the area's public transportation system.

Ms. Suhm agrees.

"It's probably something better to consider for the next go-around," she said. "Our downtown, our transportation and our venues will be more competitive in the future."

The Victory Park real estate project near American Airlines Center – the arena would probably house major convention activities – is slated to be filled with several new hotels and a bevy of restaurants, living space and recreational facilities by the decade's end. But it won't be fully developed in time for a 2008 convention.

Money is also a factor, for while conventions are potential boons for local economies, they typically cost cities tens of millions of dollars to pull off.

While some elected officials and partisans attempted to generate support for a 2008 convention in Dallas, a concerted effort never materialized.

Even if one had, landing the Democratic convention in particular would have proved challenging, said Darlene Ewing, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

"I don't think the national people are considering Texas a player in 2008, which is unfortunate," Ms. Ewing said. "We probably won't be on the short list this time around, but at least it lays groundwork. It's sort of like the Olympics: You have to go after it a few times before you win it."

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

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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.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Is New Orleans' election getting in the way of a bid?

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You're New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. You're in a huge election battle, that many expect you to lose. Your primary runoff is in 5 days, on May 20. Oh, and by the way, your city's proposal to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention is due the day before the election, on May 19. And the main reason the Democrats might come to your city, Katrina, is the reason you might lose the election. And some think that if you win the election, you won't get the bid anyway.

Will New Orleans get a bid in this week? There's been absolutely no news on any activity by New Orleans to prepare a bid, so it's hard to know what's going on.

It would not suprise me if New Orleans does not get a bid in by Friday, but it would also not suprise me if the DNC allowed the bid to come in late, given the circumstances.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dallas drops out - and then there were 6

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I wrote back in February on Dallas's lack of committment to bidding for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and now it's finally official, Dallas is out. From Democracy in Action:

Frank Poe, CEO of the Dallas Convention Center City of Dallas, stated in a May 1, 2006 e-mail, "Dallas is not preparing a bid for either meeting for 2008. Current business activity in our primary convention facilities do not provide the dates needed for either meeting.........We believe 2012 would be a better time period for Dallas to prepare bid documents for these two important meetings."
This leaves 6 cities left in contention to host the 2008 Democratic Convention: Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York.

Michigan Senate passes resolution urging the DNC to pick Detroit

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Well if the DNC can listen to people's opinions at parties, they can certainly listen to the opinion of the Michigan State Senate (pdf):

Senate Resolution No. 134.
A resolution to urge the Democratic National Committee to consider Detroit as the host site for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The question being on the adoption of the resolution. The resolution was adopted.
I don't think this would have happened if Detroit wasn't going ahead with its bid.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Proposals due in 1 week

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The deadline for submission of proposals by cities who want to bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention is in 1 week, on May 19. It's not clear if submission of the proposals will be made public or not, but in 2004, a number of cities did make their proposals public:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the City's bid to McAuliffe in a ceremony in the main lobby of Grand Central Station on the afternoon of April 11. Miami, Boston and Detroit hand delivered their bids to DNC headquarters in photo ops on April 12. Baltimore FedEx'ed its proposal in.
In any case, we should know soon which cities are ready to make the next step in the competition to host the 2008 convention.

After the proposals are in, expect things to happen quickly. A reliable source has told me that at least one multi-day site visit by the DNC Technical Advisory Committee to a bidding city has already been scheduled for June.

Minneapolis web site poll: Minneapolis should get convention!

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The Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association's web site promoting Minneapolis' bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention is running a poll to see if the convention should go to Minneapolis. As of this evening, 84% of the voters think Minneapolis should get the convention. I'll check it again in a few days to see if supporters of the other cities can knock that percentage below 50%.

Update: Well the commentor below said NO was at 61% at one point, but I never saw YES under 70%, and right now its back at the original 84%.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is a Detroit bid in question?

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Detroit's political leaders have held meetings to look at the feasibilty of bidding for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and the Detroit Free Press gives an update:

How about the 2008 political conventions? Or maybe even the 2016 Summer Olympics?

Both have been the subject of speculation by the so-called Big 4 -- Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Nancy White, chairwoman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

The conventions are something that the political leaders of metro Detroit are ready to cooperate on, especially after the success of the Super Bowl in February. "We want something that we can all do together," said Kilpatrick on Friday during the annual luncheon of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association.

All three other leaders agreed. "We've been talking about what else we can focus on," said Patterson. "I'll support an application for either convention."


The city doesn't have much time to make a decision. The deadline to submit a bid for the Democratic convention is May 19. The GOP convention deadline is May 22. Once the bids come in, the two parties will whittle their lists ...Ford Field has been mentioned as a possible site.

The proposals are due to the DNC on May 19, in just over a week. It seems very late in the process to still be deciding whether to submit a proposal. I'm getting a feeling that Detroit may not be a sure thing to make it to the next round.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

DNC visits Minneapolis facilities

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Suprisingly, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Two representatives for the Democratic National Convention on Monday visited St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Minneapolis' Target Center and the Metrodome as potential sites for its 2008 presidential convention.
All I have are questions:

Who requested this visit: The DNC, even though site selection visits were not supposed to happen until the summer? Or Minneapolis, maybe getting some early feedback before they submit their proposal which is due on May 19?

Were the visitors part of the Technical Advisory Committee, or someone else?

Are any other cities being looked at before the May 19 deadline?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wedgewood labor comments causing a bit of a stir

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I noted yesterday that some labor unions in Denver are concerned about Denver's bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention since none of the hotels in Denver are unionized. But a labor leader seemed to present a moderate approach:

"This is not, 'Don't even bother, throw Denver out the window,"' said Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation. "We want to see this convention encourage the city to take the wages and benefits of our lowest-paid workers more seriously."
Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, who is a co-chairwoman of the Denver host committee, responded by saying she didn't want efforts to unionize at the new Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center to affect the bid for the convention:
"In terms of them using this as a vehicle to unionize the Hyatt, we don't feel that's appropriate," said Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, who is also a co-chairwoman of the host committee. "They need to do that on their own."
And then in today's Rocky Mountain News:
One Denver city councilwoman believes the unions have a point, but not one that should hinder the city's efforts at landing the convention.

"We're not going to be able to turn Denver into a union town overnight," Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth said.

In an earlier version of the article, no longer linkable, she is also quoted as saying:

Do they have a point? Of course," Wedgeworth added. "But should we be the leverage for them to make that point? I don't think so."
One Denver progressive is not happy with Wedgeworth's responses, and has written her a letter, which includes:
I’m not saying it’s an easy situation with the hotels and all, but don’t you think you could have a least pretended to support the union campaign? Couldn’t you have at least given out some kind words of support, rather than “they need to do that on their own”?
Colorado Democratic Party Vice-Chair Dan Slater responded:
To set the record straight, the Denver 2008 Host Committee has been very inclusive of Labor from its inception. The head of the Colorado AFL/CIO, Steve Adams, is a Member of the Host Committee, and we've had ongoing discussions with the State AFL-CIO regarding our bid. (Note that the resolution was not passed by the State organization; it was passed by DALF.)

There are things we can control, and things we cannot control in our bid. I can assure you that our bid will be as labor-friendly as any in the nation. Where we will be hiring laborers, we will work to ensure hiring union laborers. A Denver Convention will mean an awful lot of jobs for Denver, and we are working to ensure that as many of those jobs are union jobs as possible.

For those who want to be dismissive of Councilwoman Wedgworth due to her comments, I want to say that I've worked closely with Elbra over the past few months on this bid, and I can assure you that she is no "DINO". Elbra is committed to this Party and our values. She's worked tirelessly to help bring the Democratic Party to Denver in 2008.

Sounds like the Denver unions and the Denver Host Committee should spend a little more time talking to each other and a little less time talking to the press.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And then there were 7? Yes - Anaheim is out

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I find it amusing that sometimes the most interesting and important information (from my viewpoint) is buried at the bottom of a news article that focuses on something else. For example, the Orange County Register was the first news organization in the country to break the list of the original 11 cities who expressed interest in hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention, and they had the information at the bottom of an article on the GOP convention.

Well, buried in the middle, and then clearly listed at the end, of today's Denver Post article on Denver's union issues, is a new list of the cities bidding for the convention, and there are only 7: Denver, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York. In addition to the officially departed Orlando and San Antonio, Phoenix and Anaheim are not on this list. This is the first published report by a newspaper that Phoenix and Anaheim are out, but I would still like to see some confirmation from the city or the DNC.

Update: Two different sources, both persons with knowledge about the convention selection process, have stated that Anaheim has dropped out of the bidding for the convention. While there's nothing official from Anaheim or the DNC, as far as I'm concerned, Anaheim is out.

Will Denver's bid have a union problem?

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I've written here and here how the lack of union hotels could hurt some of the bids for the 2008 Democratic Convention, especially for Denver and New Orleans. In fact, the DNC had to get special dispensation to book a non-union hotel for last month's Spring meeting.

Well, it turns out that some Denver labor leaders are not happy about Denver's bid for the convention. From a nice article by Julie Dunn in today's Denver Post:

Several Denver union leaders are prepared to oppose the city's efforts to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention, mainly because the city does not have a unionized hotel to house attendees.

The Denver Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO recently passed a resolution declaring its opposition to Denver's hosting the convention. It plans to discuss those concerns with Denver City Council members and the city's bid organizers before broaching them with the Democratic National Committee.

"There are too many elected Democrats in Colorado that have not honored their pledge to help workers form unions or protect workers during contract campaigns," the resolution states.
The union group is sending the resolution to its 80 local unions this week.

"This is not, 'Don't even bother, throw Denver out the window,"' said Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation. "We want to see this convention encourage the city to take the wages and benefits of our lowest-paid workers more seriously."

Local lawyer Steve Farber, co-chairman of the Denver 2008 Host Committee, said he does not expect Denver's nonunion hotels to derail the group's efforts. "No Democratic Party leader has yet told me that it will impair our efforts to bring them here," he said. "I assume it is a factor, but there are numerous factors that are going to be considered. "If (the labor federation) thinks they're going to block the bid, they're only hurting themselves," he added. "This is about jobs and economic impact."

Other cities also under consideration are New Orleans, Minneapolis, New York, Detroit, Dallas and Las Vegas. Of those, only Denver and Dallas do not have unionized hotels, according to Unite Here, which represents hotel workers across the nation.

Unite Here, one of 14 union groups to endorse the resolution, is working to unionize roughly 650 workers at the new Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. "I know there is strong support and interest among the workers there," said Moody.

Several city and tourism leaders voiced concern that efforts to unionize the 1,100-room hotel were becoming too politicized. "In terms of them using this as a vehicle to unionize the Hyatt, we don't feel that's appropriate," said Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, who is also a co-chairwoman of the host committee. "They need to do that on their own."

The Denver host committee could likely be split by this issue, as, by definition it combines business and Democrats together. But it seems to me that they should support the union efforts, as it will make it more likely for Denver to get the bid.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Is Anaheim out?

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Democracy in Action 2008 has a note that Anaheim has dropped its bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, but there's no reference cited, so I can't confirm.

Who's really in the running to host the convention - 5/2 update

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Looking at everything so far, I think the 2008 Democratic Convention is going to be held in one of 5 cities: Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New Orleans or New York, with Denver the clear front-runner.

The reasoning is pretty straightforward. Denver and Minneapolis are clearly actively pursuing the convention. Detroit and New York are also strong candidates, with strong histories of hosting or bidding for previous conventions, and little negative press attached to the bids. New Orleans remains a sentimental choice for many.

Anaheim and Las Vegas are still hanging around, but clearly Denver is the class of the West here, and I don't see how they would lose out to another Western city, especially with the Californian chair of the DNC Western Caucus wearing a "Denver 2008" button.

San Antonio and Orlando have officially dropped out, Phoenix has essentially unofficially dropped out, and Dallas is on the way out also.

Orlando makes it official - they're out

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I noted two weeks ago that Orlando seemed like they were dropping out. It's now official. From the Orlando Sentinel:

Scared off by the cost, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer have notified party leaders that they won't bid for the Democratic National Convention or the Republican National Convention.

"We have a lot of other things on our plate," Dyer said. "To try to justify putting $100 million toward one event didn't make a lot of sense."

Dyer, a Democrat, and Crotty, a Republican, liked the idea of turning the international media spotlight on Orlando by bringing the party faithful to town. They began exploring the idea in January.

But they found the price tag for hosting a political convention is astronomical. Security for 35,000 candidates, politicians, party delegates and reporters could top $50 million. It would cost another $15 million to build a temporary 15,000-seat stadium inside the Orange County Convention Center, then tear it down after the event.


Because of lengthy setup and tear-down periods, hosting either political convention would tie up the convention center for at least three months. Industry conventions and trade shows that have already been booked would have to be canceled or rescheduled, Crotty said, causing an economic loss of about $200 million.

The cost of a political convention would be paid primarily through private donations and, potentially, money from the tourist tax.

At the same time, the city and county are pushing other projects -- including a new performing-arts center, Orlando Magic arena and renovated Citrus Bowl -- that depend on both those sources of cash. Crotty and Dyer worried that the well of philanthropy might run dry.

As I said, and then there were 8.

(The National AP wire also has a brief writeup).

Monday, May 01, 2006

More on San Antonio decision

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I posted last week that San Antonio dropped its bids to host the 2008 Democratic and Republican conventions. There's more on the decision today from the San Antonio Business Journal:

[San Antonio Mayor Phil] Hardberger was initially excited that San Antonio could land one of the political conventions. But that excitement has waned in recent weeks when it became more clear that the numbers weren't adding up. "I've written a letter to both (political parties) declining," Hardberger says. "I've left the door open for future consideration in case another mayor down the road feels differently than I do."

Michael Sawaya, director of convention facilities for the city of San Antonio, is not surprised by Hardberger's move. Even though a national political convention would likely utilize Sawaya's facilities, he says the payback for hosting these events isn't what it used to be.

There are other concerns, according to Sawaya. "With the size of our convention center and the demand we have, it would be tough taking it off the market for too long without it having a negative impact on the community," Sawaya notes.


Hardberger says the Republicans were seeking at least $40 million worth of public and/or private support from potential host cities. The Democrats, he says, were asking for at least $35 million. "When you look at the dollars involved and what you get in return, it just made sense to pass," Hardberger explains.

Other factors weighed in Hardberger's decision. One, he explains, is that these political conventions, despite their mammoth size, simply are not the hot ticket they once were. "They are not the greatest shows on earth that they used to be," Hardberger says. "They just don't have the punch anymore."


Critics have pointed to Boston -- which hosted the 2004 Democratic National Convention -- as a case study in how these political conventions do not provide the payoff for a community they perhaps once did. Cities are taking notice of how the convention played in that city.

Fred Sainz, a former director of convention planning for the Republican Party, negotiated the deal to take the 1996 Republican National Convention to San Diego.... Sainz says any city that expects to benefit from a windfall of positive national media exposure as a result of hosting one of the national political conventions is likely in for a big disappointment.

"Cities are no longer promised the positive press. It's not like that anymore," Sainz notes.

By 2016 or 2020 I don't think any city is going to want to bid for the convention. But that's a topic for another blog at another time.

Insider report from the DNC Spring meeting

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This was sent to me by a DNC member who attended the DNC spring meeting in New Orleans:

The general feeling from everyone is that Denver has the thing locked up. While Minneapolis provided a magnificent breakfast, nothing compares to the celebration that was organized by Denver. I saw more key DNC members wearing Denver buttons than I could imagine. Congressman Mike Honda [of California, and vice-chair of the DNC] hinted that a Denver convention would be nice. Other party leaders all seemed to think the 2008 convention is on its way out west.

There was never any talk at all about the other cities. No one mentioned New Orleans at all. While it sure had the night life to please DNC members, it just didn't seem to phase anyone that it may be a convention city. The same goes with Detroit and New York. All are great cities, but everyone's minds seem to be locked up... Denver here we come!
While I think it's been clear that Denver has all the buzz, and should be considered the frontrunner to host the convention, don't forget that logistics and money will have a big effect on who will get the convention, and the other cities shouldn't be discounted yet.