DNC Will Be Largely Virtual, Not At Fiserv Forum
Delegations urged not to travel to Milwaukee, convention moved to Wisconsin Center.
With more than 50,000 guests and a $200 million economic impact projected, the 2020 Democratic National Convention was going to be a windfall for Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the size of the event. Wednesday the Democratic Party announced it would be an almost entirely virtual event.
For three months, Mayor Tom Barrett has repeatedly said the only thing he was certain of was that the nominee would accept the party’s nomination in Milwaukee. Now it’s official.
The national party is encouraging state delegations not to travel to Milwaukee for the event, and will allow online voting for the nominee.
The event is being moved away from Fiserv Forum, and instead relocated to the Wisconsin Center. The convention center was originally planned to be used as a media and staging facility.
Barrett said he expects the remaining guests will pick Milwaukee hotels versus those slated to be used in the suburbs and in northern Illinois.”I think it’s fair to say those hotels will not be needed,” he said. “I would say the impact on the hotels in the city of Milwaukee is going to be the least negative effect.” Access to hotels was a major issue for the city in securing the bid and sources confirmed that Barrett and other high-ranking officials spent time ensuring room blocks would be available at hotels across the region.
But how many people are coming to fill the remaining hotels is unclear. Barrett declined to give an estimate, but said it’s “safe to say” it would be “a fraction” of the earlier estimate.
“What is clear is Milwaukee will remain the national stage for the Democratic National Convention,” he said.
Three major events, a welcome party for delegates, another for media and a third thank you party for volunteers, have all been canceled.
Barrett said he was happy the decision was one based in science, not politics. “These decisions are being made basically on the advice of public health experts,” he said. “It’s impossible to predict what the convention setting will be particularly the week of August 17th.”
The convention was already postponed from July 14th through the 16th to the week of August 17th.
What about getting the next convention in 2024 as a do over? Don’t count on it being handed to the city said Barrett in May.
“What some people don’t understand is that to get the convention here in 2020 was the equivalent of playing an NBA basketball season,” he said. A group of convention boosters first announced their effort to land the convention in February 2018 and didn’t get picked until March 2019.
“I think the best way to put us in contention in 2024 is to take whatever we have in 2020 and just do an amazing job,” he contended.
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