Friday, March 31, 2006

Detroit putting plans in place

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From CrainsDetroit comes this note from a Detroit business breakfast:

[Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame] Kilpatrick said he, [Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks] Patterson and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano have been meeting to work out a plan to woo either the Democratic or Republican national convention to Detroit in 2008 and that he and Patterson “work together every day. The language of our constituencies often fuels the perception of a fight between Brooks and I that doesn’t exist.”
The language implies that Detroit will be going after both conventions. We know Orlando also wants to bid for both conventions, and we'll see what other cities will also be doing dual bids.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Charlotte still not interested in hosting convention

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Ten weeks after the deadline to accept an invitation to bid for the 2008 Democratic Convention, Charlotte's mayor has made news:

The city also received an application for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, but McCrory, who's a Republican, says the city has no plans to submit a bid for that event, either.
Well, that's good to know, since it cuts down the numbers of cities that are interested in hosting the convention from 11, to, well, 11.
The article does say that Charlotte will not bid for the 2008 Republican Convention due to conflicts with the building of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. You can read more about that at the web site 2008 Republican Convention Watch. Well, you could if the web site existed...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More thoughts on Denver 4th night proposal

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In the previous post, I wrote that Denver is reported to be considering proposing holding the last night of the convention, when the nominee speaks, at a different location than the previous 3 nights. I thought this was a crazy idea for the Denver bid from a logistical and cost viewpoint.

However, a source has told me that Dean has been dropping hints that he would like some sort of "public event" to close the convention week, which could, logically, be the nominee acceptance speech. (It could also just be a big rally the next day). So we may see all the cities come up with proposals like this, and my comment earlier saying "don't blame Dean for this" may have been premature.

And maybe there is a method to the madness. I understand that the goal is to get people to watch and listen to the speech on Thursday night, so maybe doing something "different" is the right approach. We shall see...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dean indicates Denver should make Final 3

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Columnist Rob Reuteman writes in today's Rocky Mountain News:

Host committee co-chair, Steve Farber has already met with Dean about the city's bid to host [the 2008 Democratic Convention]: "He's given us indications Denver should be in the final three."
There are a lot more interesting notes from this article:
  • The host committee has already raised $400,000.
  • Chris gates, co-chairman of the host committee, notes that the final decision will made after the November mid-terms:
"In the end, it's Dean's decision, and the November elections will affect it," Gates said. "It's as much about politics as it is about the technical capabilities of any city to stage a convention. And the West is the new battleground for the presidency."
  • Denver's bid would put most of the convention action at the Pepsi Center, with the final night at Invesco Field.
I am very suprised by that last one. Having the convention in two separate places makes the logistics much harder. You have to build all the infrastructure twice: podium, floor seating, and media facilities. I can't imagine the media will be happy about having to pay for two sets of anchorbooths, wiring, etc. Security is also a nightmare. You have to setup the whole security infrastructure in two separate places. Not to mention the security checkpoint system gets used and worked out the first 2 days, before the big days of Wednesday and Thursday. If you have the final night in a completely new place, it seems to me you're asking for trouble.

Update: I would note, however, that Invesco field is actually very close to the Pepsi Center - there's just Interstate 87 between them. In theory, they could use the same security perimeter, and almost the same transportation setup. I still think the cost, however, is still a major factor.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Union hotels

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In one of my earliest posts, I quoted from Harry Shearer on New Orleans:

The radio hosts noted that, though this is an historically Democratic town, only the Reps have ever held a convention here, the “Read My Lips” conclave of 1988. The reason, one of them alleged, was that the Democratic organizers insisted on more rooms in unionized hotels than the city could provide.
It is true that the Democrats have insisted on union hotels in their convention cities. This presented a problem for the DNC spring meeting coming up in April in New Orleans:
The group usually uses only union hotels but got a special dispensation from labor officials to book the downtown Sheraton, he said. Dean said the Sheraton was the only full-service hotel that was reserving rooms and could handle a convention that large.
Union cities are typically located on the coasts and midwest, which would rule out having the convention in the south or southwest. Colorado Luis has been watching this issue for a while. In November he wrote:

I understand there is only one unionized hotel in downtown Denver -- the Executive Tower Inn. I'm a big union supporter (live in a union household actually) and I understand the preference for unionized cities. But unfortunately we are at the point where the union hotel preference limits the convention possibilities to a few of the usual suspects (Boston, NYC, SF) plus Las Vegas.

I would recommend a deal where the convention can go to a city like Denver and yes, N.O. where the hotels aren't unionized and in exchange there are organizing efforts in conjunction with the convention.

Well Luis reports that the organizing efforts in Denver aren't waiting for the convention:
UNITE HERE is launching a drive to organize the Convention Center Hyatt and they have convinced City Council to declare neutrality (which is the best they could have hoped for). This is huge because a successful campaign there could cause other downtown hotels to go union as well.

I'm not hoping that UNITE HERE will succeed so that Denver can host the DNC. I'm hoping the prospect of landing the DNC will help UNITE HERE succeed in organizing downtown Denver.

Well said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Denver and Orlando hosting receptions at the DNC Spring meeting in New Orleans

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As I wrote last fall, the DNC is holding their regular spring meeting in New Orleans starting on April 20. What's most interesting is that Denver and Orlando are both hosting evening receptions (on different nights) in support of their convention bids. None of the other cities, even including the host city of New Orleans, has a reception on the schedule. (The schedule could change, of course). For Denver, this is not surprising - they continue to be the most aggressive of the potential cities. But I am surprised by Orlando. I had downplayed their chances, but this reception shows that they are quite serious about going after the convention. And they were the only city besides Denver to announce that first weekend that they were interested in hosting the convention. So Orlando will need to be watched more closely.

And to clarify some things said in the comments, while the members of the DNC to not get to vote on the site selection, clearly their opinions, like those of other key Democrats, will be very important to Dean, and therefore the wooing of the ~440 DNC members will be interesting to watch.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Convention Technical Advisory Group

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Updated 3/14

From the comments, unconfirmed but reasonable, is a list of the 10 members of the 2008 Democratic Convention Technical Advisory Group. From the DNC:

The technical advisory committee begins the process of reviewing the applications and visiting the cities this summer.
The TAG will make the city visits, and report back whether cities are capable of hosting the convention: site, hotel rooms, media support, transportation, etc.

So who's on the TAG?
  • Tom McMahon, DNC Executive Director - previously Exec Director of Democracy for America; Deputy Campaign Manager for Dean
  • Leah Daughtry, DNC Chief of Staff - Director of Convention Management for the 1992 Democratic National Convention
  • Matt Nugen, Director of Chairman Dean's Office, Deputy COO 2000 convention.
  • Joseph Sandler - former General Counsel for the DNC
  • Zoe Garmendia - 2004 site selection, 1996, 2000 and 2004 convention logistics
  • Cameron Moody - 1996, 2000 and 2004 convention logistics
  • Wally Podrazik - He's been involved with handling media logistics at every Democratic convention since at least 1980, and has been involved with site selection in the past. Wally is also an author of TV and Beatle books.
  • Diane Dewhirst - Former press secretary to Senator George Mitchell, and I believe she's done convention logistics in the past
  • Elaine Howard - 2004 site selection; former Director of Events for DNC
  • Ricky Kirshner - Producer 1992-2004 conventions
The first three people are Dean political people, although both Daughtry and Nugen have convention logistical experience. Sandler is the lawyer.

The rest of the group is clearly technical/logistical, not political.

This is all very different than 2004, when folks like Willie Brown, Henry Cisneros, and Freddy Ferrer were on a 40-person site advisory committee. A smaller group will make the city visits less of a circus, and/but probably give Dean greater control over the final selection.

San Antonio looking at convention costs

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In what I expect may be a common theme among cities, San Antonio's mayor is worried about the cost of hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention:

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger is not ready to throw an offer out to either the Democrats or Republicans without a clearer picture of what it would cost to land either of the conventions.

"I wouldn't rule out making a serious bid for either convention," Hardberger says. "But the truth is that political conventions can cost a city a lot of money."

This is now the second San Antonio city official who has expressed concern about the cost of hosting the convention.

In the same article, a San Diego GOP convention planner talks about the convention's costs:

Fred Sainz says he negotiated the deal to take the 1996 Republican National Convention to San Diego. He is now press secretary for the mayor of that city, which has already passed on its invitation to bid on both 2008 conventions.

Sainz says that 1996 convention cost San Diego $40 million. He says those in 2008 could cost their host cities much more. "It's a different environment now," Sainz says. "With security concerns and other factors, the cost would be way above that ($40 million) now."

It would not suprise me if we lost a few of the 11 cities just for cost reasons.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Washington Post on New Orleans and convention dates

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I first noted it last week, and Sunday's Washington Post also discusses that the 2008 Democratic Convention will end one day before the anniversary of Katrina:

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on Aug. 29, so it might not be surprising that there's already chatter about whether New Orleans will be the Democrats' choice when the DNC announces the host city this fall. In a poll of 4,000 people by the left-leaning blog Daily Kos, 28 percent voted for New Orleans, while 31 percent selected Denver as their top choice.
The anniversary is not what's causing the chatter about New Orleans. The city would have been the most "interesting" candidate regardless of when the convention was. The anniversary just adds one more factor into the difficult decision about whether to bring the convention to New Orleans.

The Post also discusses the impact of the date chosen by the Democrats:
The choice of the date -- and the announcement so far in advance -- is also tactically important. Democrats want to avoid what happened in 2004, when Republicans took a date in late August, forcing the Democrats to hold their nominating convention in late July to avoid competing with the Summer Olympics. As a result, presidential nominee John F. Kerry had to give his address a month earlier than President Bush and withstand an additional month of GOP attacks.
Well, I think money was a more important reason than avoiding a summer of attacks, as I wrote last week:
Both Bush and Kerry opted out of public financing of their primary campaigns, and could therefore spend unlimited money until they had their convention. So the later the convention, the less time the General Election public money had to cover. This is why the Kerry campaign was looking at ways of potentially delaying the official acceptance of the nomination, so they could continue to use their unlimited primary money.
But with the combination of tactical advantage, money, and causing the Republicans grief on their convention choice, it was a great preemptive move that Dean and the DNC made in November by their early announcement of the convention dates, and its good to see the traditional media starting to recognize this.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Convention facilities

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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.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Could the convention help Orlando get a new arena?

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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.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Will a McCain candidacy keep the Democrats away from Phoenix?

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The Business Journal of Phoenix (what, don't you get all your political gossip from the prestigious BJoP?) raises an interesting point:

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain is expected to run for president again in 2008 which could play into both political parties' site selection.
There have been a few of what I will call "Home" and "Away" conventions:

"Home" conventions:

Stevenson: '52, '56 - Chicago
Bush: '92 - Houston
Kerry: '04 - Boston

"Away" conventions:

Eisenhower: '52 - Chicago, vs. Stevenson
Kennedy: '60 - LA, vs Nixon

Notes: Obviously, both parties were in Chicago in 1952. I'm not sure about Stevenson in '56, but clearly Bush in Houston in '92 was a planned friendly site. Kerry was surely a major contender when Boston was selected in 2002, but it's hard to say if it had an effect on the selection.

So its fall 2006, and McCain is still on top of the GOP primary polls. If you're the Democrats, would you want to take a chance on Phoenix? I'm guessing the Democrats will pass on that option.

So, its fall 2006, and McCain is still on top of the GOP primary polls. If you're the Republicans, do you want to take a chance on Phoenix? If you're backing McCain, absolutely. But if you think Giuliani, Allen or someone else is going to beat McCain in a bruising primary battle, do you want McCain to give his obligatory defeated candidate speech in front of an adoring home-town crowd? I'm not so sure about that.

Then again, after site selection visits in the desert heat, Phoenix's bids may just wither away anyway...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Minneapolis and Anaheim updates

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Minneapolis is definitely submitting a bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Lee Henderson, a spokesman for the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, said Tuesday that the city would be submitting bids for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
And Anaheim is the second city known to form a Host Committee:
The nonprofit Anaheim 2008 Convention Host Committee, headed by Republican strategist Jeff Flint, has funded the lobbying effort with corporate donations and money from the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau.