For 2008, We’re the Hosts with the Most
To: Governor Howard Dean, Chairman, Democratic National Committee
Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee
You’ve been looking for a 2008 national convention host city. Come to the Twin Cities! We are welcoming Midwestern folk, in the middle of the country politically, and able to offer unparalleled amenities.
No other city has the event rÃ©sumÃ© of the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. We have successfully hosted both conventions of every size and nearly every type of national and international sporting event in recent years, from the U.S. Olympic Festival to the U.S. Open Championship, the NHL Stanley Cup and All-Star games, the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the NCAA Final Four. We’ve demonstrated our ability to mobilize friendly volunteers (as many as 6,000), provide effective security, and produce flawless national media coverage.
Xcel Energy Center, Target Center, and the Metrodome would all be outstanding convention venues. Each is located within 30 minutes of more than 30,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 low-cost lodging facilities.
But in addition, the amenities! The Mississippi River and Rice Park in St. Paul are unequaled in any other urban setting. (How many convention sites can host large numbers of delegates on Mississippi paddlewheel boats?) And what other American city has the lakes and walking paths of Minneapolis? The new addition to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the new Minneapolis Public Library, Walker Art Center, and Guthrie Theater all offer spectacular facilities for receptions and convention events.
Your requests for proposals were remarkably similar, but the minor differences were revealing. The Republicans specify that all leased facilities must be kept between 68 and 76 degrees. Democrats, apparently accustomed to hot air (or frigid conditions), make no such request. The Democrats require that there be no work stoppages in exchange for exclusive use of union labor where possible. Republicans request the same guarantee against stoppages while making no pledge of union-labor use. Both parties ask for exclusivity; the Twin Cities can have one but not both 2008 political conventions.
››› Your convention should also come to the Twin Cities for political reasons. This media market (you can check this with my host committee co-chair, Stanley Hubbard) influences 38 Electoral College votes and in particular, the 17 votes in Iowa and Wisconsin, two very swing states. Candidates for president have been known to campaign along the Mississippi River, and for good reason: the Mississippi touches states that together account for 99 Electoral College votes. Political junkies will tune in at any time of the day or night to follow a convention, but others (often called swing voters) prefer more convenient hours. The Twin Cities, in the Central Time Zone, are ideally suited for media coverage of your convention.
Hosting a national political convention costs an estimated $55 million and will return to the host community $100 million to $150 million in direct spending. Of greater benefit during these times of extreme polarization would be a convention that takes place in the heartland, in the middle of common sense and reasonable people. There is a reason why national broadcasters seek a Midwestern accent in their journalists—it is the sound of America without being sectarian or regional.
Come to Minnesota. You will be glad you did. The party that doesn’t will regret the choice. But we’d be too nice to say we told you so.
Vance K. Opperman
Minnesota Host Committee