The Democratic National Convention is less than two weeks away, and that means a lot of people are rolling up their sleeves to get Philadelphia ready for its international close-up.
The Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia — where delegates and politicians will spend most of their time — will be the busiest area.
Crews took over the South Broad Street stadium at the end of May to prepare the space for speeches, as well as reporters and a host of other day-to-day activities.
Travis Dredd, deputy CEO for convention complex management, said those tasks will take nearly 500 people daily between now and the start of the convention on July 25.
“We’re working pretty much regular business hours, but they’re pretty intense and dense,” he said.
Dredd’s team will run 1,000 miles of cable inside the center — fiber-optic and otherwise.
Just about as many signs will go up around the stadium complex. And roughly 3,000 seats will be removed for the main stage and podium, where presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to deliver an acceptance speech at the end of the convention.
In addition to paid workers, thousands of volunteers will be helping people get around the city — 18,000 in all.
Up to 50,000 people are expected to take part in the festivities throughout the week. But a good chunk of them, possibly more than half, will be media.
An Eagles game-size crowd
A lot of them will spend hours at the Wells Fargo Center, which means the city won’t be the sardine can it was when the pope was in town last fall.
“It’s pretty much the same number of people who go to a football game,” said Meryl Levitz is CEO of Visit Philadelphia, adding that the city will be just as bikable and walkable as always.
As people walk around Center City, they’ll invariably stroll past a fiberglass donkey or two. There are 57 total, each hand-painted by artists with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
To make sure the fleet is looking its best, Mural Arts is pressing into service three or four “donkey doctors” to make cosmetic touch ups as needed.
“They will truly be like a doctor who is making house calls. They will have their bag of paints and they will be ready and on the spot to make the repairs,” said executive director Jane Golden.
Levitz, with Visit Philadelphia, estimates the economic impact of the convention at between $250 million and $300 million.
The cost of the convention is approximately $60 million.
Philadelphia is spending nearly $700,000 on services other than security — including set up and cleanup, graffiti removal and decorations.
Those costs are spread out over several city departments — Streets, Parks and Recreation, Water, Public Property — as well as the Office of Supportive Housing and Community Life Improvement Programs or CLIP.
One number that can’t be quantified right now: The long-range impact of having such a big, international spotlight on Philadelphia.
“One reason to do the convention is to make sure your city isn’t simply a backdrop, but has an active role on the stage.” said Levitz.