Chicago skyline
Chicago skyline (Photo: Alan Stark, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has cho­sen a host city for its next qua­dren­ni­al meet­ing. Chica­go, the Windy City, will serve as the gath­er­ing place for the 2024 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, which will be held from August 19th-22nd, 2024, about a month after the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion takes place in Milwaukee.

(Typ­i­cal­ly, the par­ty that holds the White House sched­ules its con­ven­tion to fol­low that of the par­ty that is con­tend­ing for the presidency.)

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion is return­ing to the Mid­west, a crit­i­cal Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­hold: Illi­nois along with Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, and Min­neso­ta – part of the ‘blue wall’ – were cru­cial to the 2020 vic­to­ry of Pres­i­dent Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris and to Democ­rats’ suc­cess in the 2022 midterm elec­tions,” the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee said in a statement. 

“Chicago’s con­ven­tion bid was sup­port­ed by a wide range of mid­west­ern Democ­rats who rep­re­sent the diver­si­ty of the par­ty, demon­strat­ing the for­mi­da­ble coali­tion that will help re-elect Pres­i­dent Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris, and elect Democ­rats up-and-down the tick­et,” the state­ment went on to say.

“The region will show­case Pres­i­dent Biden’s eco­nom­ic agen­da that is rebuild­ing our roads and bridges, unleash­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing boom, and cre­at­ing good-pay­ing mid­dle-class jobs. Chica­go has already felt the impact of Biden’s [Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act], includ­ing $144 mil­lion to reha­bil­i­tate the four Illi­nois Inter­na­tion­al Port Calumet Riv­er Bridges, with bil­lions in invest­ments to expand eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty around the region.”

“Chica­go is a great choice to host the 2024 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden. “Democ­rats will gath­er to show­case our his­toric progress includ­ing build­ing an econ­o­my from the mid­dle out and bot­tom up, not from the top down. From repair­ing our roads and bridges, to unleash­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing boom, and cre­at­ing over 12.5 mil­lion new good-pay­ing jobs, we’ve already deliv­ered so much for hard work­ing Amer­i­cans – now it’s time to fin­ish the job.”

The 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee was sup­posed to have been held in near­by Mil­wau­kee, but the par­ty ulti­mate­ly con­vert­ed the con­ven­tion to a most­ly remote for­mat due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and the city only end­ed up host­ing a small con­tin­gent of Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers and DNC staff.

The last in-per­son con­ven­tion was held in Philadel­phia in 2016. Pre­vi­ous host cities were Char­lotte (2012), Den­ver (2008), Boston (2004), and Los Ange­les (2000). Chica­go last host­ed the 1996 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, at which Bill Clin­ton and Al Gore were renom­i­nat­ed for new four-year terms.

The oth­er can­di­date cities for 2024, New York and Atlanta, had last host­ed the con­ven­tion in the two cycles that pre­ced­ed 1996. New York host­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in 1992, while Atlanta host­ed the par­ty in 1988.

With Mil­wau­kee hav­ing land­ed the RNC, it was not a can­di­date city for the 2024 DNC. Chica­go, how­ev­er, is close to Mil­wau­kee, and the Mil­wau­kee area could ben­e­fit eco­nom­i­cal­ly from the con­ven­tion, which will have a large footprint.

“I am thrilled that Democ­rats will take the stage in Chica­go to share our party’s vision and val­ues,” said DNC Chair Jaime Har­ri­son. “The Mid­west reflects Amer­i­ca and will give Democ­rats an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case some of Pres­i­dent Biden and Vice Pres­i­dent Harris’s most sig­nif­i­cant accom­plish­ments for Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. I’m grate­ful to the lead­er­ship of Chicago’s bid for being great part­ners, as well as to the oth­er cities for putting for­ward such strong bids.”

“Chica­go is a world-class city that looks like Amer­i­ca and demon­strates the val­ues of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty,” said May­or-elect Bran­don John­son of Chica­go, whose vic­to­ry last week gave pro­gres­sives a big elec­toral vic­to­ry at a crit­i­cal time.

“We are unmatched when it comes to host­ing events of this scale. I look for­ward to work­ing close­ly with the DNC to facil­i­tate a spec­tac­u­lar con­ven­tion that show­cas­es Chicago’s diverse cul­ture, our beau­ti­ful lake­front, our renowned hos­pi­tal­i­ty sec­tor, and our best asset: our amaz­ing people.”

John­son’s vic­to­ry could have been a fac­tor in the site selec­tion, the Chica­go Tri­bune report­ed, explain­ing: “After Gov. J.B. Pritzk­er and John­son held a pri­vate meet­ing in the governor’s office on Fri­day, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nor said he thought Johnson’s elec­tion as may­or enhanced the city’s appeal to the DNC.”

Atlanta’s bid was report­ed­ly hob­bled by the labor move­men­t’s desire for the DNC to pick a host city that isn’t locat­ed in a state with laws that are hos­tile to work­ers’ pow­er to col­lec­tive­ly bar­gain for bet­ter wages and work­ing conditions.

Geor­gia also has a Leg­is­la­ture and a gov­er­nor hos­tile to LGBTQ+ rights, where­as Illi­nois is a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-con­trolled state that is LGBTQ+ friendly.

“Chica­go was select­ed at the con­clu­sion of a rig­or­ous site selec­tion process, which was led by DNC Direc­tor of Con­ven­tion Plan­ning Alex Horn­brook and includ­ed a Tech­ni­cal Advi­so­ry Group of vet­er­ans who have worked sev­er­al cycles of con­ven­tions and are experts in the areas of hous­ing, trans­porta­tion, infra­struc­ture, secu­ri­ty, acces­si­bil­i­ty, and are­na and pro­duc­tion logis­tics,” the DNC said. “These experts trav­eled to Atlanta, Chica­go, Hous­ton, and New York. Late last year, the DNC entered into con­tract nego­ti­a­tions with a final set of cities before select­ing Chica­go as the host to the 2024 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Convention.”

The Unit­ed Cen­ter — where the Chica­go Bulls and Chica­go Black­hawks play their home games — will be the prin­ci­pal con­ven­tion venue.

“With a capac­i­ty of near­ly 21,000, the Unit­ed Cen­ter is the largest are­na by capac­i­ty in the NBA, and sec­ond largest are­na by capac­i­ty in the NHL. It also has a seat­ing capac­i­ty of 23,500 for con­certs,” its Wikipedia arti­cle notes.

“Open­ing in 1994, the Unit­ed Cen­ter replaced the Chica­go Sta­di­um, which was locat­ed across the street. The first event held at the are­na was WWF Sum­mer­Slam. Due to the lock­out, the Black­hawks did not move in until Jan­u­ary 1995. In 1996, the Unit­ed Cen­ter host­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, where it first intro­duced a new style four-screen speech prompt­ing sys­tem for speak­ers con­sist­ing of two glass teleprompters, accom­pa­nied by an inset lectern mon­i­tor, and for the first time, a large under-cam­era con­fi­dence monitor.”

Near­ly thir­ty years lat­er, the Windy City’s Unit­ed Cen­ter will once again wel­come Demo­c­ra­t­ic del­e­gates from all over the coun­try as well as thou­sands of media rep­re­sen­ta­tives and many par­ty lead­ers and spe­cial guests.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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