Monday, July 17, 2006

Dems choose St. Paul Xcel Center for Twin Cities bid

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

It was an unconfirmed report I noted 3 weeks ago, but now it's official. The DNC has told the Minneapolis/St. Paul bid committee that if Minneapolis/St. Paul gets the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the convention itself will take place in the St. Paul Xcel Energy Center.

The arena would host the evening events, including nomination speeches, endorsement votes and the candidate's acceptance speech, the mayors said at a press conference at the arena. They said there would be plenty of hospitality across the Twin Cities.

The Minneapolis Convention Center would host an "energizing grass roots experience" for DNC delegates and Minnesota residents, the mayors said in a release handed out at their press conference at the Xcel this morning. The Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis would be the headquarters for the convention.

More from an earlier report:

St. Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom, who sits on the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau board, said Sunday a focus on Xcel would strengthen the Twin Cities' bid. ... "Everybody that's been here, they love it," Bostrom said. "It's well-maintained, the sight lines are great and it's got great fit and finish. It sells very well."

But Bostrom stressed that the event would be a cooperative venture. The gathering typically fills 20,000 hotel rooms, more than 10 times the 1,500 rooms in downtown St. Paul.

And since local planners have suggested that the neighboring RiverCentre and Roy Wilkins Auditoriums could be used as media workspace, smaller convention-related gatherings likely would wind up elsewhere, in large Minneapolis hotels or that city's convention center, for istance.

The key here is the adjacent RiverCentre. Having a convention center right next to the convention arena provides excellent staff and media workspace that can be inside the security perimeter. Boston had to build a new building for the media in 2004. New York used the Farley Post Office building for the GOP in 2004, but it's not available for 2008. While there are many logisitical issues to look at, having large adjacent workspace available will be a plus for St. Paul's bid. (Denver and New York surely have solutions to this problem, but I'm not aware of them).

But there's even more. In what to my knowledge is a first, they are proposing to hold the daytime, non-televised events in a different venue :

Daytime meetings would be held across the river at the Minneapolis Convention Center, near the Minneapolis Hilton hotel headquarters for the convention.

To me, this presents a number of issues. While the daytime events are not televised by the networks, CSPAN does gavel-to-gavel coverage, and the cable nets normally would do their shows live from the convention hall even if boring stuff is going on in the background. So for CSPAN, the convention hall will still have to be wired and lit for television. And the cable nets will either have to set up studios in both places, or more likely, broadcast from a convention hall that will now be empty all day - not great visuals.

And while the daytime venue won't need presidential level of security, credentialing perimeters will still have to be setup. I understand the Twin Cities desire to spread the events around the two cities, but it would not suprise me if this separate daytime venue falls out of the bid at some point.

Update: Its pretty clear from news reports and the press release that the meetings at the Minneapolis Convention Center are smaller meetings (such as state caucuses, etc), and not part of the main convention proceedings. That would make more sense.


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