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Chicago bidding for 2024 Democratic National Convention


The convention “would build on the city’s history of successfully hosting large-scale events that draw visitors from around the country and world, putting Chicago’s world-class restaurants, museums, art and entertainment on a global stage,” said the announcement statement. “A Chicago-based convention would also leverage the city’s location as a central hub in the heart of the country, close to many states throughout the key Midwest region.”

Officials have been quietly organizing for the bid for months. There is little doubt that the city has the hotels and other necessities needed to host a huge gathering, as it did in 1996, when President Bill Clinton was nominated here for a second term. Indeed, the hospitality industry would welcome such a gathering, which would help it further recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But work needs to be done. For one, a host committee needs to be formed and to raise tens of millions of dollars, so Chicago corporate leaders should expect to be hit up soon for financial commitments. And if the city is to get the prize, Lightfoot will have to provide some firm evidence that she is getting a handle on a now 3-year-long crime wave, something she has not done yet.

I’m told that financial mogul Michael Sacks will be active in fundraising. So, too, likely will be Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, who operate the United Center, which hosted the 1996 convention and likely would be the frontrunner for the convention this time.

Insiders are not saying how much the host committee will need to raise—usually, it’s well into the tens of millions of dollars that go for parties, dinners and other perks for delegates and visitors—but the bid itself will cost more than $1 million.

Lightfoot, in the statement, chose to accentuate the positive. “Hosting the 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago will create tremendous opportunities for job creation and business growth,” she said.

“The convention would infuse more than $150 million into our economy, making it a win not just for Chicago but our entire state,” said Pritzker. “I’m proud to invite the nation to explore the Land of Lincoln and Obama.”

Don’t be surprised if former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama play a major role in the formal bid.

The convention is expected to take place in August 2024. If it follows the usual pattern, it will run for four days, with the nominee for president selected on the third day, normally a Wednesday.

If President Joe Biden runs for a new term, the gathering could be routine. If he retires, the event could be wide open.

Among competitors for the convention are Atlanta, Houston and Las Vegas. Republicans have narrowed their list to two cities, Milwaukee and Nashville. Having both meetings in cities just 90 miles apart would be interesting and save a ton of money—but perhaps that’s too logical for politics.



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