City and government officials in Phoenix are currently preparing for a visit Sept. 9-11 from the Democratic National Committee. Phoenix joins four other cities – New York City; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; and Birmingham, Ala. – as finalists to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
The committee of Democratic officials to visit Phoenix makes up the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group, and will assess Phoenix’s viability and readiness to host the convention.
With stiff competition from the other top cities, Phoenix stands out as the only finalist from the West, and offers a host of distinguishing qualities that are sure to pique the interest of visiting officials.
Although historically a red state, Arizona is on the cusp of becoming a swing state with its growing Hispanic electorate.
Phoenix is a majority-minority city, and Latinos make up more than 40 percent of its population. By far, it has the largest Latino community of any of the five finalist cities. As a state, Arizona boasts the third-largest Native American population in the country.
Phoenix is also one of the nation’s most LGBT-friendly communities, and earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
Mayor Greg Stanton leads Phoenix’s effort alongside Host Committee co-chairs U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, convention liaison Ann Wallack, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, and business leaders Rick DeGraw and Martin Shultz.
Stanton said that in addition to its diversity, Phoenix’s logistical advantages, amenities and experience hosting large-scale events are important to the city’s pitch.
“We’re really the perfect host city,” Stanton said. “Downtown Phoenix, with the convention center, arena and thousands of hotel rooms, is compact and just minutes from the airport via light rail. Throughout the Valley, we have exactly the kind of venues that are important to making national party conventions a success.”
The nation’s sixth-largest city boasts more than 500 hotels, 60,000 hotel rooms, and 40 full-service resorts. With more than 900,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, the Phoenix Convention Center is one of the largest meeting facilities of its kind in the United States, and is recognized as one of the country’s top 10 convention centers. It is along the city’s light rail line and just seven miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Phoenix is a hot spot for large-scale events and in just six months will host both the Super Bowl XLIX and the NFL’s Pro Bowl. The Valley of the Sun has previously hosted two Super Bowls, the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, and plays host to MLB Cactus League Spring Training and the NCAA’s Fiesta Bowl annually.
More than 16 million people visit Greater Phoenix alone each year, making tourism one of Arizona’s largest revenue generators.
The 2016 Democratic National Convention is expected to bring upwards of 50,000 visitors to the host city, and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. Phoenix’s bid has earned bipartisan support because city and state leaders – regardless of political affiliation – understand the positive economic impact of hosting an event of this magnitude.
“The economic benefits in Phoenix would be especially key because the convention would take place before Arizona’s tourism season really kicks off,” Wallack said. “Our community is prepared to make sure convention visitors have a special experience, and we’re thrilled to show the DNC all we have to offer.”
During the site visit, the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group will tour the convention center and US Airways Center, as well as top destinations in the region. The historic Orpheum Theatre will be among the unique venues showcased as potential sites for party caucus meetings during the convention.
The Technical Advisory Group is expected to make a decision on the host city at the end of 2014 and announce its decision in 2015.
For more information on Phoenix’s bid, visit www.phx2016.com.