Site Selection 2004 Main Convention Page

"In addition to being a celebration of our party, the Democratic convention is an opportunity for the host city to showcase its attractions and to draw an international media audience.  It offers the possibility of thousands of new visitors, more tourism dollars and enhanced civic pride."
-DNC chair Terry McAuliffe 

Democrats had considered four cities to host the 2004 Democratic National Convention: Boston, Detroit, Miami, and New York City.  On November 13, 2002 they announced that they will hold their convention in Boston, marking the first time a major political party has held its convention in the city.  On December 17 officials from the city and the Democratic National Committee signed the contract in a ceremony at FleetCenter.  

The Democrats' site selection process began in October 2001, when the Democratic National Committee sent out letters to the 34 largest cities inviting them to consider hosting the party's 2004 convention.  The introductory letter outlined Preliminary General Requirements.  Cities responded to the introductory letter, and on February 28, 2002, the Democratic National Committee invited 10 cities -- Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, New York City and Pittsburgh -- to submit proposals, with a deadline of April 12, 2002 at 5:00 p.m.. The Request for Proposal contained ten sections covering everything from general city obligations--such as liability, indemnification, and insurance, labor relations, and ADA compliance--to requirements for the convention complex, the host committee, security, transportation, and so forth.  Chicago (Feb. 28), Pittsburgh (April 10), Atlanta, Houston (April 12) and Dallas withdrew from consideration by the April 12 deadline.  Five cities submitted proposals: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Miami, and New York City. (Baltimore later withdrew its proposal by mutual agreement with the DNC).

In June and July the DNC's 40-person Site Advisory Committee visited the four remaining cities.  Site visits took place in June and July: Boston (June 24-26), Miami (July 15-17), Detroit (July 23-25), and New York City (July 29-31).  In addition, Boston received a follow up visit on August 2 and Detroit received a follow up visit on August 22.

The foremost charge of the Site Advisory Committee is to make sure the city can meet the logistical requirements of holding a convention: providing the 17,000 hotel rooms, the 125 air-conditioned buses, the willingness to sign over the convention venue for three months for preparation and later restoration (most of the proposals would give the DNCC unlimited access, meaning "exclusive control and direction" from June 1-Aug. 6, 2004), and so forth.  The lodging, transportation and security requirements are enormous.  Then there is the question of budget.  In general, total funding in these proposals falls in the $41-51 million range.  This includes in kind and cash expenditures; the biggest items are the convention venue and security.  A major concern for Democrats in examining the projected budgets is the proportion of transferable versus nontransferable funds.  (A higher proportion of transferable funds gives the DNCC greater flexibility, allowing it to make reallocations between different sections of the budget should it so choose.). 

Beyond the infrastructure and the budget numbers there are more intangible factors that enter into the calculus of site selection.  The host city should reflect the party's message, and if it is a key state in terms of electoral votes so much the better.  Joe Andrew, co-chair of the Site Advisory Committee, said a city's "enthusiasm and energy level" will also enter into the equation.  The DNC is looking for "a city that really wants us," he said.

Democratic Site Selection Timeline
  • early 2001    Outgoing DNC chair Joe Andrew named as co-chair of the Site Advisory Committee.
  • Feb. 28, 2001     DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe names Alice A. Huffman, a longtime Democratic activist, as co-chair of the Site Advisory Committee.
  • April 25, 2001     In a letter to RNC Chairman James Gilmore, McAuliffe states Democrats will hold their convention the week of July 18, 2004.  [McAuliffe writes, "The first step in planning for the 2004 Conventions is choosing a dates.  As you are aware, tradition dictates that the party in the White House holds their Convention after the challenging party.  This letter will serve as official notice that the DNC will hold its Nominating Convention the week of July 18, 2004."]
  • Oct. 16, 2001     DNC sends out letters to the 34 largest cities inviting them to consider hosting the Democrats' 2004 convention.  [Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City (MO), Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, St. Paul, San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Washington, DC].  The introductory letter outlines Preliminary General Requirements.  Over the next several months, cities respond to the introductory letter.
  • Jan. 19, 2002     At the DNC winter meeting in Washington, DC, McAuliffe announces the remaining 38 members of the Site Advisory Committee.
  • Feb. 28, 2002     DNC announces that 10 cities will receive RFPs to host the 2004 Democratic Convention: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, New York City and Pittsburgh.
  • Feb. 28, 2002   Chicago rules out a bid; in a statement Mayor Richard M. Daley says, "[W]e just had our turn.  Let's give some other cities the opportunity."
  • April 10, 2002   Pittsburgh rules out a bid; in a letter Mayor Tom Murphy cites the cost of retrofitting the city's new convention center to meet the needs of the Democrats.  Murphy states that the city is "at a critical juncture in securing the remaining funding for the building."
  • April 12, 2002   Houston rules out bids for either convention; in letters Mayor Lee P. Brown cites ongoing redevelopment and major events to be held in the next couple of years, as well as the city's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  He states that "it is important for our city's leaders to focus on completing all that we have undertaken."  Atlanta rules out bids for either convention; Mayor Shirley Franklin states that hosting a convention "would displace several large groups that have already made their plans.  It would not be fair to ask them to find alternate locations."
  • April 12, 2002 at 5:00 p.m.     Deadline for submitting bids.  Five cities submit proposals: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Miami, and New York City.  [New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the City's bid to McAuliffe in a ceremony in the main lobby of Grand Central Station on the afternoon of April 11.  Miami, Boston and Detroit hand delivered their bids to DNC headquarters in photo ops on April 12.  Baltimore FedEx'ed its proposal in].
  • May 22, 2002     Site Advisory Committee holds first meeting, studies proposals and decides it will visit Boston, Detroit, Miami and New York City.  By mutual agreement Baltimore's proposal had earlier been withdrawn. 
  • May 29, 2002     McAuliffe sends mayors of the four cities a letter notifying them that, "The Democratic National Committee is now actively considering the weeks of July 19, July 26, August 2, August 30 and September 6, 2004 for the start of our convention."  He points to the late start of the Republican Convention and the record six week gap between the two conventions.  McAuliffe writes, "As Chairman, my primary concern is the impact this decision has on our Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees.  Therefore it is imperative that we re-examine all our options."
  • June 24-26, 2002     Site Advisory Committee visits Boston.
  • July 15-17, 2002     Site Advisory Committee visits Miami.
  • July 23-25, 2002     Site Advisory Committee visits Detroit.
  • July 29-31, 2002     Site Advisory Committee visits New York City.
  • August 2, 2002     Follow up visit to Boston.
  • August 22, 2002     Follow up visit to Detroit.
  • November 13, 2002    Site Advisory Committee holds second meeting, recommends Boston to McAuliffe, who accepts the recommendation and announces Boston as the host city.
  • December 17, 2002    Officials from Boston and the DNC sign the 97-page contract at FleetCenter.
Site Advisory Committee (40 people total)
Co-chairJoe Andrew (announced early 2001), former DNC chairman; he chaired the 2000 site advisory committee which operated in 1998.  Currently partner in the Corporate/Mergers & Acquisitions Department and Chairman of the Global Public Affairs Group at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. 
Co-chairAlice A. Huffman (announced Feb. 28, 2001), a longtime Democratic activist--member of the DNC since 1992; at the time of the announcement she was President/CEO of A. C. Public Affairs; soon afterwards she became president of  the Calif. NAACP. 
Elizabeth Bagley (DC)
Fred Baron (TX)
Vida Benavides (CA)
Alma Brown (DC)
Willie L. Brown, Jr. (CA)
Amy Burks (AL)
Joe Carmichael (MO)
Henry Cisneros (TX)
Kelly Craighead Mullen (DC)
Debra DeLee (MA)
Pepper English (DC)
Scott Falmlen (NC)
Freddy Ferrer (NY) 
June Fischer (NJ)
Marcia Hale (SC)
Rick Hernandez (MD)
Jean Hervey (AZ)
Elaine Howard (DC)
Liz Keadle (CA)
Gary LaPaille (MD)
David Leland (OH)
Tanya Lombard (DC)
Martin Maddoloni (DC)
John Merrigan (DC)
David Mixner (CA)
Kim Moran(CA)
Rebecca Ogle (TN)
Bob Poe (FL)
Wayne L. Rogers (MD)
Larry Scanlan (DC)
Harold Schaitberger (DC)
Barbara Lett Simmons (DC)
Calvin Smyre (GA)
Joe Stroud (IL)
Susan Swecker (VA)
Nanett Torrano (VA)
Hugh Walsh (DC)
Susan Weiner (RI)

While the DNC's 40-person site advisory commmittee might seem unwieldy, especially when compared to the Republicans' nine-person site selection committee, it is smaller than the 49-person committee that considered the 2000 sites.  Joe Andrew said the size reflects the party's efforts to be very inclusive and to reach out to people from different geographic, racial, and experiential backgrounds.  As an economy measure, members of the advisory committee divided up the visits so that each person visited two of the four competing cities.

1. A number of cities that bid for the 2000 Democratic convention were not interested this time around (Denver, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Charlotte, and Seattle). 

Atlanta, GA --  Atlanta hosted the 1988 Democratic convention, but the city has seen much growth since.  According to the 2000 Census, the Atlanta metropolitan area (MSA) had a population of 4.1 million, 11th biggest in the country.  The metropolitan area's population increased by 38.9 percent in the decade from 1990 to 2000 (by comparison the resident population nationwide increased by 11.6 percent in the same period).  Mayor Shirley Franklin (D) was elected in November 2001.  Georgia has 15 electoral votes; Gore lost the state by 55 to 43 percent, but this is a Southern state a Democratic candidate could carry. 
City of Atlanta  |  Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Baltimore, MD -- Convenient to Washington, DC, Baltimore bills itself as "The Greatest City in America."  Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) was elected in November 1999.  According to the 2000 Census, the primary Baltimore area has a population of 2.6 million, while the broader consolidated Washington, DC-Baltimore area tallies 7.6 million people.  Maryland has 10 electoral votes; Gore won the state by 56 to 40 percent.
City of Baltimore  |  Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association

Dallas, TX -- Dallas bills itself as "the City that Works: Diverse, Vibrant and Progressive."  Dallas hosted the 1984 Republican convention.  According to the 2000 Census, the Dallas-Fort Worth consolidated metropolitan area has a population of 5.2 million (ninth biggest metropolitan area), and the primary Dallas area is home to 3.5 million people.  The mayor is Laura Miller; she presides over and votes as a member of the City Council.
City of Dallas  |  Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Houston, TX -- Houston hosted the 1992 Republican convention and is bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games.  According to the 2000 Census, the Houston-Galveston-Brazonia consolidated metropolitan area has a population of 4.7 million (tenth biggest metropolitan area), and the primary Houston area is home to 4.2 million people.  Mayor Lee P. Brown (D) was elected to a second term in a December 2001 runoff.
City of Houston  |  Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Pittsburgh, PA -- Craig Kwiecinski, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Murphy (a Democrat first elected in November 1993), said that while most people don't immediately think of Pittsburgh as a convention site, a closer look will show the city has a brand new convention center; is steeped in Democratic tradition; has transformed itself from an industrial-based economy to a thriving environmental success; and has a strong labor background; further Pennsylvania is clearly going to be a swing state in 2004.  According to the 2000 Census, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area has a population of 2.4 million, 18th biggest in the country; the population actually declined slightly in the past two decades.  Gore won Pennsylvania with 50.6 to 46.4 percent; following the 2000 reapportionment, the state has 21 electoral votes.
City of Pittsburgh  | Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Sites of Recent Conventions

2000 Philadelphia, PA Los Angeles, CA
1996 San Diego, CA Chicago, IL
1992 Houston, TX New York, NY
1988 New Orleans, LA Atlanta, GA
1984 Dallas, TX San Francisco, CA
1980 Detroit, MI New York, NY
1976 Kansas City, MO New York, NY
1972 Miami Beach, FL Miami Beach, FL
1968 Miami Beach, FL Chicago, IL
1964 San Francisco, CA Atlantic City, NJ
1960 Chicago, IL Los Angeles, CA


Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.