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Philadelphia will host the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, the political organization confirmed this morning. The city beat out New York City and Columbus, Ohio, which had also been shortlisted for the event.
The news is a win for Philadelphia, which has actively invested in increasing its business and cultural offerings since last hosting such a large-scale political event. Philadelphia previously hosted 45,000 visitors for the Republican National Convention in 2000.
In a statement, the Democratic Party’s organizing committee pointed to the city’s logistical infrastructure as a driving factor in the decision. There are 11,000 hotel rooms within Philadelphia and approximately 30,000 in the region. The DNC will need about 17,000 within a 30-mile radius.
Hosting a convention not only brings in coveted dollars, but significantly raises the profile of the city and increases its potential to attract future events.
The convention brings in three distinct but important group of people, according to Meryl Levitz, CEO of the city’s tourism board Visit Philly.
She identifies these as the media, many of whom have not visited the city before the convention, the delegates and their families who can experience Philadelphia as a destination during and around the actual event, and the business people who might consider bringing their own event or conference to Philly after the convention.
The city has changed considerably since Philadelphia hosted the Republican gathering in 2000.
“There’s a change in the feeling of the people of Philadelphia,” explains Levitz.
“We had a skeptical population in 2000. Hosting the event was aspirational because many people didn’t think that we could do it. Today, they’re excited about it. They feel that Philadelphia is ready.”
The exact economic impact of hosting a political convention can be difficult to calculate. Charlotte, North Carolina, reported the 2012 Democratic convention drew 35,000 visitors and generated in $162.6 million in business sales. Small business owners; however, countered that by saying that the convention actually dried up their usual business.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was not excited by the news.
“I’m not happy at the outcome. I’m disappointed, by definition,” he said during a speech Thursday.
“We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a highly competitive dynamic. That was something that was clear over and over again, not just with Philly, but with Columbus – obviously, Columbus being in the politically most central state of the entire nation.”