Party Time: Convention Cities Unveil New Facilities

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Chicago will host the Democratic National Convention in August. Photo by Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash.

With the presidential election looming in November, the national conventions are on deck this summer for the official nominations of party candidates for president and vice president. And nowhere is the excitement more intense than the host cities of Chicago and Milwaukee—two Midwest powerhouses—who are putting their best foot forward with impressive new facilities.

Chicago Gears Up for 2024 DNC

“It feels like 2019 again,” said Dustin Arnheim, SVP Sales & Services at Choose Chicago, during an interview at IMEX America in October. “Chicago is alive, it’s vibrant. We’re at about 91 percent of 2019 levels. The city’s bustling, especially in Spring, Summer and Fall.”

Even better than Arnheim to tell Chicago’s story are the 115,000 readers of Conde Nast Traveler, who just named it “Best Big City in the U.S.” for the seventh straight year—an accolade of which he is extremely proud. “The city’s clean, it’s beautiful. If you compare it to other big cities, you don’t see the same homelessness or panhandling, it’s very different.”

For all those reasons, along with its central location and booming hotel scene, the Democratic National Committee has chosen Chicago’s United Center as the site for its 2024 National Convention in August. Choose Chicago is planning a number of educational events for meeting planners to take a peek behind the curtain at United Center and McCormick Place and learn about the logistics of such a huge event—everything from security to media.

Chicago is expected to receive an economic boost of $150 to $200 million from hosting the convention, which it expects will attract 50,000 visitors. “The 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago will welcome people from across the nation to an unforgettable event,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “Our great global city and its diverse communities, unparalleled hospitality, and world-renowned venues show off the best of America, and its people represent the heart of our country.”

What else is making convention news in Chicago? The U.S. debut of one of Asia’s most prominent hotel brands—Lotte Hotels and Resortswhich introduced its vibrant, lifestyle-centric L7 HOTEL to downtown Chicago this spring. There were major renovations at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, with 2,032 reimagined rooms, suites and ballrooms; as well as recent openings, including The Neighborhood in Little Italy and the St. Regis Chicago.

RNC On Tap in Milwaukee

Milwaukee boasts a growing hotel and dining scene and a major expansion at the Baird Center, which will host the RNC.

Milwaukee is ready to take on all comers. With the newly unveiled $456 million expansion of Milwaukee’s Baird Center—which doubled the total convention center space to more than 1.3 million square feet—”Brew City” is set to host the upcoming Republican National Convention (July 15-18, 2024), which will bring more than 45,000 delegates, credentialed press and visitors to the city, generating an estimated $200 million in direct and indirect economic impact.

“It’s safe to say that this will be one of Milwaukee’s biggest summers ever — one that will propel us into the national meeting spotlight,” said Marty Brooks, Wisconsin Center District president and CEO in a media announcement. “With our world-class Baird Center providing a state-of-the-art setting for the RNC, we’ll not only see a significant economic boost; we’ll also show meeting planners across the country that Milwaukee is the ideal city for their next event.”

Formerly known as the Wisconsin Center, the expanded Baird Center is expected to stimulate at least $12.6 billion in total spending in the state over the next 30 years, as well as generate at least $150 million in incremental state income. Expanding the convention center makes it possible for the Baird Center to book simultaneous and overlapping events and secure larger, more prominent events, helping fill Milwaukee hotels and restaurants and positively impacting local shops and stores.

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