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.