Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spurning DNC May Cost City Dearly

The Democratic National Committee invited a number of U.S. cities to submit bids to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. After taking a look at the calendar of upcoming events, Indy’s response was thanks but no thanks.

The Ballard Administration said that the number of conventions and major events such as the upcoming 2015 NCAA Final Four, the Women’s Final Four in 2016, and other events would preclude Indy from having enough private funds and space to host the Democratic or the GOP soirees in 2016.

The Marion County Democratic Party attacked Mayor Ballard for playing politics calling his move purely political. Chairman Joel Miller said in a news release:

“(Tuesday’s) move by Mayor Ballard is shameful, disrespectful and blatantly political. Indianapolis was specifically invited by the Democratic National Committee to submit a bid to host a political convention that reaps financial rewards for the city and global exposure in a Presidential Election year. Next month, our city is holding one of the largest single-day sporting events in the world. We have hosted the Super Bowl and are in the running for another. We have hosted Final Four tournaments and major stock car races. The excuse that we don’t have enough hotel space and private funding to attract a political convention is simply ludicrous. 
Mayor Ballard was willing to ask ‘Kate and William’ – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – to a cricket tournament at his boondoogle of a cricket stadium on the eastside. He is willing to host the NRA’s convention later this week in Indianapolis. But, he is not willing to host Democrats, including the current President of the United States, in our city.”
Listen.  I don't know if the move was blatantly political nor do I know what is in the Mayor's heart.  I'm inclined to agree more with the Chair than disagree with him on this one, but what I do know is that Greg Ballard is turning his back on an incredible opportunity to infuse our city's economy with a lot of big money.

I did a little research.  Mayor Ballard turned down an opportunity to infuse the local economy with nearly $164 million if you equal the economic impact to the Charlotte area in 2012.  Here's a great fact sheet about other things the Dems did in Charlotte.

Where the Ballard Administration's idea that Indy isn't ready to hold a major political convention begins to crack at the foundation is that we've hosted the Super Bowl, and the city is trying to get another one.  The NFL loves Indianapolis so much that it copied our idea of a Super Bowl Village at the two cities that have hosted Super Bowls since Indy did.  

The NFL turned Charlotte down for hosting a Super Bowl saying that the city didn't have enough hotel rooms nor the right facility to host the biggest American football game in the world.  Even though Charlotte was spurned by the NFL, by most accounts they hosted a great Democratic National Convention.

Timing is everything.  As Ballard's Administration says that Indy can't muster together enough space and hotel rooms to host an estimated 35,000 Republican or Democratic conventioneers, Indianapolis is hosting a convention by the National Rifle Association.  The NRA convention is bringing 70,000 convention goers to town this week.  Plus, Indy knows how to rock big events like the Indianapolis 500 EVERY YEAR where over 250,000 people jam pack the 600+ acres at 16th & Georgetown each year.  Another 75,000 will pile in to watch the Brickyard 400.  Perhaps 25-35,000 will watch the MotoGP race.  

As an event host, Indianapolis rises to each challenge that is put before it. The volunteer base here is unlike any other, and this city knows how to put on big, revenue generating events.  We do it better than anyone else in this country.  With a world-class convention center, a walkway-connected downtown, over 30,000 hotel rooms in the general area, and a tremendous planning acumen, I can't for the life of me understand why Mayor Ballard turned his back on this amazing opportunity.  Maybe it was pure politics.

With both parties reaching out and the Democrats asking Indy to put in a bid, who knows if the major parties will be calling on Indy again in the future?  To not even submit a bid is, as Miller put it, shameful and disrespectful.

A good friend with DNC connections reminded me today that the economic impact of the 2008 Democratic National Convention on Denver was $250 million.  Charlotte was only three days whereas Denver was four.  An open seat centrally-located Presidential national party convention could be expected to draw much more in economic impact than the 2012 renomination convention in Charlotte did.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ballard is clueless about an event named GenCon taking place in downtown (not out at the Brickyard) Indy, one that had been there for over ten years now and draws 50,000 people over a four day weekend.

johnnystir . said...

I'm reminded today by a good friend that the impact in Denver was $250 million.

Anonymous said...

Surely this was done by the administration or the people raging about this decision, but has anyone contacted the ICVA or seen an advance schedule to if the times this national convention would be taking place, there is already a conflict on a few weekends here already. If dates were supplied, and because we book conventions and try to land them years in advance, maybe we truly are booked that timeframe. I do think it was stupid to not put a bid in, but this, among politics, is the only reason I could think of an instant no bid. That, and do we really have enough deep pocket Dems and Dem businesses that could help put on the show?