Convention town: Pittsburgh would be ideal for either party

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Pittsburgh would be the ideal spot for a national political convention.

The Democratic National Committee has invited the city to be one of three dozen to submit a bid to host its 2016 event, and Mayor Bill Peduto should go after it with enthusiasm.

Last week the Republican National Committee announced the final eight bidders for its convention and Pittsburgh, unfortunately, was not one of the applicants. The city should throw its hat in the ring next time.

The Democrats should feel at home in a city where their own members have been elected mayor for the past 80 years and have had a monopoly on council for decades. For the Republicans, the city offers that brand of Middle America appeal that the party needs to tap in order to reach crossover voters.

For 2016, Pittsburgh has everything the DNC says it needs for its convention.

The region’s 24,000 hotel rooms exceed the party’s minimum requirement of 17,000, and they include 1,600 suites, 600 over the number requested. The state-of-the-art Consol Energy Center would be an ideal setting for nominating a presidential candidate, with the ability to seat almost 20,000. With some minor alterations, its 66 luxury boxes could be reconfigured to come close to the 100 sought by the party.

More compelling than the adequate physical facilities is the story of Pittsburgh itself, an inspiring narrative demonstrating the power of hard work and creative thinking that transformed a hard-scrabble, fading industrial power into a modern hub of new technology, first-rate educational institutions, world-class medical centers and high-quality, affordable housing. It’s the tale that brought the G-20 here in 2009.

At its core, Pittsburgh is a regular town, with strong family ties, rich cultural traditions and a friendly attitude without pretense. In short, its personality is like the typical American voter’s, which both Republican and Democratic officials can appreciate.

Luring a national convention to Pittsburgh won't be cheap or easy, but it is a prize worth pursuing. Mayor Bill Peduto and other key leaders of the region must get team up quickly, prepare an enticing bid and throw out the welcome mat.

First Published March 3, 2014 12:00 AM

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