Denver Wins Democratic National Convention

Denver -- This city will host next year's Democratic National Convention, a gathering of an estimated 35,000 people, the largest traditional convention in the city's history.

"We are thrilled and honored to have been selected for this convention after intense competition with some of the largest cities in the country," said bureau president Richard Scharf.

New York City and Minneapolis-St. Paul were the finalists. Minneapolis-St. Paul dropped out of the bidding when it was selected to host the Republican National Convention, scheduled to begin Sept. 1 next year.

The Democratic convention is scheduled Aug. 25-29, 2008, the week before Labor Day, traditionally a slow tourist week in Denver, according to Scharf.

The Democrats bypassed the recently expanded Colorado Convention Center downtown for the Pepsi Center, a privately owned arena located on the edge of downtown in the LoDo entertainment district. Built in 1999, the arena seats about 20,000 people.

The Democrats arranged for union labor during their meeting; the facility otherwise employs non-union workers, according to Scharf.

It appears Denver owes its victory over New York City mainly to the Democrats' political strategy. New York is a solidly Democratic state as compared to Colorado. But voters who lean Democrat have been moving westward in recent years, so Democrats hope to attract those voters in part by holding their convention in the region.

In addition to politics weighing in the city's favor, Denver has added more than 5,000 hotel rooms since 2000, for a total of 40,000 rooms, with 2,000 more rooms to be built by the convention's opening, according to Scharf.

Scharf said the Democratic National Committee, which organizes the convention, requested 18,000 rooms.

The Democratic National Convention is expected to be the largest event ever held in Denver in which a large number of hotel rooms are occupied, according to the bureau. World Youth Day in 1993 attracted an estimated 90,000 young people from around the world, but the majority of them stayed in private homes, campgrounds, and other lodging facilities created specifically for this event.

The bureau estimates that the convention will generate $160 million in direct and indirect spending in the metropolitan area.

The event will mark the second time the Democrats have held their presidential nominating convention in Denver. They last met in Denver in 1909.

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