The Six-Million-Dollar Host

The Six-Million-Dollar Host

An invitation for 2012: What's red, all over, and in the black?

Governor Tim Kaine,
Chairman, Democratic National Committee
Michael Steele,
Chairman, Republican National Committee

I wrote in September 2006 to explain why the 2008 national convention of your political party should be held in the Twin Cities. It has now been a year since the national GOP convention was held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and I am writing to see how you think it all turned out.

The host committee promised that venues for parties and fundraising events would be world class. Many of us had the opportunity to go to events held at the Xcel Energy Center, the new Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minneapolis Public Library, and other facilities. I believe that you would agree these were not only outstanding but unequaled at any other national convention. The weather, as promised, was terrific (no hurricanes).

We had the opportunity to talk to a number of media representatives and, with one major exception, they were frankly wowed—and said so frequently on national television. The media accommodations available at the Xcel Energy Center were unrivaled, as a CBS executive told us. In fact, the Xcel Energy Center also proved to be extremely popular with rank-and-file GOP delegates.

As for finances, we estimated that hosting a national convention would cost approximately $55 million and would return to the community between $100 million and $150 million in direct spending. Being the prudent Midwestern folk that we are, we also said that the budget would be met, all debts would be paid, and (unlike those at other conventions) the host committee would end in the black.

In fact, the convention generated $168 million in new spending in the Twin Cities area. The Minneapolis–St. Paul 2008 Host Committee has now received its final audit from Deloitte and Touche, and it shows that total disbursements related to the convention came to $59.8 million. But the good news is that the committee raised approximately $66 million—a more than $6 million surplus!

After deliberation, host committee CEO Jeff Larson and members of the committee including Doug Leatherdale, Stanley Hubbard, Cyndi Lescher, Jac Sperling, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson decided that the Minneapolis Foundation, the St. Paul Foundation, and the Minnesota Foundation would all receive equal grants of $2 million each.