Exclusive details on Chicago’s bid for 2024 Democratic convention: Bid due May 27

The Chicago Sun-Times interviewed Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who have been working on Chicago’s bid for months.

SHARE Exclusive details on Chicago’s bid for 2024 Democratic convention: Bid due May 27
Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, waving to the delegates from the stage of the Democratic National Convention at the United Center in Chicago on Aug. 28, 1996.

Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, waving to the delegates from the stage of the Democratic National Convention at the United Center in Chicago on Aug. 28, 1996.

Associated Press

The Chicago Sun-Times has learned the bid for Chicago to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention — due May 27 — will tout the proximity of hotels to convention venues, restaurants and tourist spots — the multiple spaces for events in addition to the United Center — and how Illinois, a blue state surrounded by red states, is the living embodiment of Democratic policies and programs.

The convention will be sometime during the 2024 summer, with the date not set. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a DNC vice chair; Gov. J.B. Pritzker; and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have been working on the city’s bid for months.

The entity created to fundraise for the convention, Development Now Chicago, was incorporated with the Illinois secretary of state on Dec. 2, 2021.

Pritzker, a billionaire, made a substantial contribution to the host committee. On May 10, another major Democratic donor, chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor Michael Sacks and his wife, Cari, are hosting an event with Pritzker and Lightfoot for potential donors and labor and business leaders.

The Request for Proposal the Democratic National Committee sent to Chicago said the city would need to accommodate 50,000 participants — with the DNC alone needing a block of 15,000 hotel rooms for delegates, party officials, high-end donors and President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Cabinet members, Secret Service and White House staff.

Pritzker told the Sun-Times, “You want to have your convention in a place where our Democratic values are on full display. And this is a state that’s protected voting rights, that’s pro-choice, that’s pro-workers rights, and I think that gives us a leg up against any other responder to the RFP and any other city.”

Lightfoot said, “We are very well positioned, given the number of options that we have here in the city. So ultimately, we’re going to give them a menu of options and proposals that they can pick from them.”

The bid will also stress how accessible Chicago — in the center of the nation — is by car, plane and train. A very strong selling point of Chicago — with 50,000 hotel rooms within the city — is unlike other convention cities — where participants may face horrendous commutes from hotels to convention events — the event venues, restaurants, tourist attractions, even the Cubs and Sox stadiums are all close to downtown.

Duckworth said in other Democratic convention cities, “Philadelphia or Charlotte or Denver, you were schlepping between places or it’s hard to get between places. And I think it’ll be really important to show how easy it is to move people around the city and how accessible everything is. That’ll be one of the things that I want to highlight.”

Pritzker, Lightfoot and Duckworth in separate interviews on Monday told the Sun-Times:

The bid will provide the DNC with menus of multiple options for using not only the United Center but — and this is not the complete list — McCormick Place, the Wintrust Arena, Navy Pier, Soldier Field and the Museum Campus.

Because of COVID-19, the 2020 Democratic convention in Milwaukee was mostly virtual. Pritzker said the bid will include proposals for staging the convention as a virtual as well as an in-person event.

  • In the end, Biden’s team will choose the host city. Duckworth said she intends to personally pitch Biden and first lady Jill. Lightfoot spoke to DNC chair Jamie Harrison last Friday, when she was in D.C. Pritzker said he talked Chicago up with Biden during a White House visit last year. Democratic Party of Illinois Chair Rep. Robin Kelly said she promoted Chicago as the host city with Harrison.
  • Lightfoot, Duckworth and Pritzker have been involved in raising seed money for the host committee. Pritzker said he made a donation, not revealing the amount.

The DNC will require an extensive financial package from the host city to cover a variety of costs — from festivities connected to a political convention to paying for the venue itself, to covering costs for a visit from the DNC site selection team.

  • The city and state will be expected to cover some costs for police and troopers and firefighter overtime.

Pritzker, asked about taxpayer expenses, said, “We have a lot of conventions as you know that come to the city of Chicago. We’ve had major gatherings, international and national, in the city of Chicago, and I wouldn’t expect that the expenditure by the city would be any more than any of those.”

Lightfoot, asked about the use of taxpayer money said, there will be “some city investments. It’s too early for us to specify what those are. But, you know, like any events that we have here of any size, whether it’s Lollapalooza, whether it’s sporting events, this is a team sport, no pun intended. So we’ve got to make sure that we step up and we do our part as well.”

Jason O’Malley, the lead fundraiser for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, is raising money for the Chicago 2024 Host Committee, hired by Magnify Strategies, the top consultant for Chicago’s DNC bid. Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara met with DNC Executive Director Sam Cornale and Finance Director Michael Pratt in Chicago on April 28.

According to organizers, the “diverse coalition” of business, civic and labor leaders helping to support the bid include United Center Joint Venture co-chairs Jerry Reinsdorf and Rocky Wirtz; Choose Chicago President Lynn Osmond; Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jack Lavin; Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia; Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea; Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter; Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association President Michael Jacobson; Access Living President Karen Tamley; and CTA President Dorval Carter.

On Tuesday, convention organizers will release a video plugging Chicago narrated by rapper and actor Common, a city native. A convention website, Chicago2024.com, will also be activated.

Said Kelly, Chicago “is a big city that’s done this before.”

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