St. Louis wants to host 2012 Democratic Convention

Saturday, April 17, 2010 | 6:22 p.m. CDT; updated 12:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ST. LOUIS — The Gateway City wants to host the Democratic National Convention during the next presidential election year in 2012.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is preparing a bid. The plan was announced Friday.

“I don’t want to watch the Democratic National Convention on television, and I don’t want the delegates, guests and sponsors spending their money in hotels, stores, bars and restaurants in Cleveland or Charlotte,” Mayor Francis Slay said in a statement. “We’ve accomplished a lot in St. Louis since our last bid in 1988, and I think we ought to show it off.”

St. Louis officials say nabbing the convention could produce an economic benefit of $266 million. About 50,000 delegates, journalists and other visitors are expected to attend.

Bids to host the event are due May 21. So far, other cities vying for the event have not been announced, but St. Louis is likely to face stiff competition from bigger communities with better weather.

Regardless of the obstacles, the Convention and Visitors Commission in St. Louis is hard at work. Already, it has started securing a block of more than 15,000 hotel rooms. The commission estimates a total of 77,000 hotel nights would be needed for the event.

“I think St. Louis has what it takes to do this,” said Brian Wahby, head of the city’s Central Democratic Committee, who will lead the effort to raise money and assemble a host committee.

St. Louis hasn’t hosted a national party convention since 1916 — the year Woodrow Wilson was nominated at a Democratic convention held at the old St. Louis Coliseum.

The bid has the backing of Gov. Jay Nixon, whose office sent an e-mail in January asking the Democratic National Committee to include the city in the selection process.

“Gov. Nixon believes that St. Louis is ideally suited to host the 2012 convention,” said spokesman Jack Cardetti. “Obviously this is a long selection process, and Gov. Nixon looks forward to working with St. Louis and other Missouri Democrats to put our best foot forward.”

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