Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Meet the Finalists for Democratic National Convention

Milwaukee, the first to announce, is one of eight cities bidding.

By - May 11th, 2018 02:10 pm
DNC 2020 Bid Committee and Friends. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

DNC 2020 Bid Committee and Friends. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee is one of eight cities bidding to host the Democratic National Convention in 2020.

The Democratic National Committee is considering all eight of the cities that expressed an interest in hosting the convention. Joining Milwaukee, who was the first city to announce, are Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Denver, CO, Houston, TX, Miami Beach, FL, New York City, NY and San Francisco, CA.

Milwaukee announced their intent to bid in late February with a pitch I summarized as: “New arena. New hotels. New streetcar. Revitalized downtown. All in a pivotal swing state.”

Milwaukee Bucks vice president Alex Lasry is leading the Milwaukee effort. Lasry, who previously worked in the White House, said the bid team would have to privately raise up to $1 million to finalize the bid.

Lasry estimates the final cost will be between $50 million and $80 million, with the national party and other non-local organizations contributing millions to the effort. The economic impact is estimated to be approximately $200 million.

“There is nothing that Milwaukee doesn’t have that any of the top tiers cities have. Yet we are consistently left out of the conversations when it comes to company relocations and best places to live. By winning this bid we think that we will show Milwaukee is a place that needs to be talked about,” said Lasry at a press conference announcing the bid.

The Philadelphia convention, held in late July 2016, attracted approximately 50,000 attendees, including 4,763 delegates. The federal government allocated $43 million to the city for security purposes. The 2016 Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland.

The Milwaukee bid will be reviewed this summer by a team from the national party.

And while the bidding process is getting underway, campaigning for the Presidential nomination is also about to get underway. For the first time in over a decade, Democrats have no likely nominee waiting in the wings. A competitive race would draw increased attention to the convention.

Bid Team

The bid has the support of Mayor Tom Barrett. At the February announcement, Barrett, a Democrat, said in addition to the swing state status the city is well situated because of the downtown resurgence and the growing number of hotels in the region. He said his experience at the 2016 Democratic convention in Philadelphia showed him that suburban hotels will be an asset because Milwaukee doesn’t have the traffic issues that other cities have. “We’re very, very confident that we have the hotel rooms and that was one of the stumbling blocks we have had in previous years,” said Barrett.

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, is playing a large role in supporting the bid. Sheehy, who has also been involved in the efforts to bring Foxconn to the region, said at the February announcement: “I am here representing the green party. That is the opportunity the convention presents to bring tens of thousands people to the city to spend money and create jobs.” An affiliate of the MMAC is serving as the fiscal agent for the effort.

Lasry’s father, hedge fund operator Marc Lasry, is co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and a prominent Democratic donor. The elder Lasry told CNBC in September 2017 that Democrats need a message beyond “anybody but Trump” if they’re going to be successful in 2020.

The Milwaukee Bucks are also bidding on the NBA All-Star game in 2022 and 2023. The new arena is scheduled to open in July.

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