More than a dozen officials from the Democratic National Committee came to Philadelphia Wednesday to answer a big question: Does the city have the right stuff to host the party’s 2016 convention?
An estimated $200 million boost to the local economy hangs in the balance.
The Wednesday visit was pure Philadelphia. A Mummers string band played as the DNC’s technical advisory group arrived. Then Mayor Michael Nutter and former Gov. Ed Rendell took the representatives to eat cheesesteaks at Pat’s in South Philly.
Later Wednesday evening, the DNC members toured Independence Hall and, come Thursday, they’re off to the Art Museum and the National Constitution Center.
DNC CEO Amy Dacey said she is “excited” to be in Philly and complimented its pitch to host the convention.
“When the team came to Washington, D.C., they did a great presentation for us,” she said, “and we, as a team agreed that we wanted to come to the city to see firsthand what it had to offer.”
But Dacey didn’t let on how Philadelphia stacks up against the competition: Brooklyn, Phoenix, Columbus, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama. When asked about Philly’s chances, she repeatedly replied that the DNC has three priorities when selecting a host city.
“We are very focused on the financial, logistical and security issues around hosting any convention,” she said, “and so we’re concentrating on those three areas.”
Rendell, who is pushing for Philly to be selected, said the host group will have no problem raising the tens of millions of dollars needed to put on the convention. He noted the city’s success in hosting the Republican National Convention in 2000.
“We raised $68 million in cash and in-kind contributions in 2000,” Rendell said. “I think we can easily replicate that, and if you adjust it for inflation, that’ll put us in the low 80s.”
And even though Philly’s subway only has two lines, Rendell says it has a leg up on New York’s.
“I’d say the average temperature of the [New York] subway stations was 120, 125,” he said.
Nutter, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, diplomatically added, “There are five great cities that are now vying for the opportunity to the host.”
Still, Nutter said, “We think we have some of the best things going in the United States of America. We’re focused and positive about Philadelphia.”
The DNC expects to pick the winning city at the end of this year or in early 2015.