Pittsburgh drops bid for Democratic National Convention


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In the end, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials decided the region has the physical tools to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention but the cost would be too great.

Instead, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced Friday the region would support Philadelphia's bid in an effort to bring the convention to Pennsylvania.

"While having the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County front and center as host of the Democratic National Convention is absolutely attractive, and showcases our vibrancy and growth, the timing just isn't right," Mr. Fitzgerald said in the release.

"By partnering with the city of Philadelphia, we have the opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania in the national media spotlight, which benefits our community as a whole."

In April, Democratic Party organizers announced Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were among 15 cities asked to submit formal proposals to host the 2016 convention. In Friday's release, the city and county said they determined the region could meet hotel and other accommodations, but when they determined the cost of hosting the event would be prohibitive, they began talking with Philadelphia officials about helping them win the bid.

"The Democratic National Convention would have been a great opportunity for our city, but we aren't prepared to take on the cost right now," said Mr. Peduto. "By exploring a partnership with Philadelphia, we can support our neighbors on the other side of the state and potentially capture some of the economic benefits by having Pittsburgh companies participate in the event."

Cost estimates for hosting the national convention range from $50 million to $60 million, although DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a February letter to Mr. Peduto that past conventions have generated $150 million to $200 million for the host city's economy in return.

The host committee in Charlotte, where the 2012 Democratic convention was held, raised $24.1 million for the event, far short of a $36.6 million goal. The city, however, estimated the convention produced nearly $164 million in economic impact.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman Jim Burn, who lives in Millvale, issued a statement Friday supporting Philadelphia's convention bid. He said Pennsylvania's position as a swing state in presidential elections makes it an ideal location for the national convention.

"But beyond being the swing region of a great battleground state, Philadelphia is on the move," he said. That city is "uniquely equipped to host Democrats from across the country."


Ed Blazina: eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470. First Published June 6, 2014 5:45 PM

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