The deadline for submitting a letter of interest in bidding to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention was Friday, March 1st. Today, Seattle Mayor's Office spokesman Jeff Reading revealed that, though Seattle was courted along with nearly three dozen other cities as potential hosts, the city passed on the opportunity.
Citing a critical lack of building resources--particularly hotel rooms and convention spacing, and other amenities necessary for the nearly week-long conference--the city felt it was better to say "thanks, but no thanks" at this time.
Jim Brunner, political reporter for the Seattle Times, points out the interesting conundrum that the distinct lack of a proper indoor sports facility, namely a basketball arena that isn't KeyArena, limited any bid Seattle could make. The DNC requires a large number of seats and luxury boxes for the convention, which aren't present at the Key.
We've raised the point earlier of the possibility of the Democratic National Convention serving as a catalyst to help get the SoDo arena project up and running. With 2016 out, bids for 2020 or beyond make that a moot point, given the current MOU and the "expressions of interest" for a possible Seattle NHL expansion franchise that would require the construction of the arena much sooner. Does having such a building prove a handy asset in the political realm for the future regardless?
Brunner brings up the detail that both of the major political parties tend to prefer to hold their national conferences in swing states to help bolster their efforts. As Washington has decidedly voted Democratic in presidential elections for the last three decades, much to the chagrin of those east of the Cascades, there would be little to no strategy in awarding Seattle the convention beyond being a trendy pick.
Does this kill political interest in the new arena?
Tying the arena to a practical concept outside of sports was surely a boon to the effort. Concerts and exhibition events are commonly cited as additional uses that help to fill out an arena's schedule and allow it to be financially viable when the primary occupants are out of town or out of season. These still tend to be abstract concepts that might touch local pols as human beings, but hardly lend much credence to their professional interests.
Hitching the project to something nearer and dearer to politicians' hearts--the city's status in their given world--presented a tangible opportunity to witness the direct effects of supporting the project. In a sense, it offered a better carrot.
The argument can still be made that for Seattle to be, pardoning the now-cliché phrase, "a world-class city," it will need world-class facilities. While any bid for the DNC was such a non-starter for Seattle that it's barely registered in this long process to make the new arena a reality, this brief exercise does show that Seattle is inadequate with the various accommodations and resources we have presently.
Are the cultural and entertainment aspects enough to keep the political tide in favor of the project as we get down to crunch time? Does the need for better facilities, which would make Seattle competitive for opportunities like the DNC, offer incentive to pols for the project? Which are the stronger enticements, in your opinion?