Cleveland, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year face the immense challenge of pulling off one of the most important political events of the election season (which has dragged for well over a year).
Much has been written about the economic disasters of the Olympics and sports stadiums. Political conventions, on the other hand, seem benign. An event can be hosted in an already existing arena. Delegates, press, and other attendants of the conventions are expected to fill up to 15,000 hotel rooms. Not to mention, the press and the potential boost for incumbent candidates on tough reelection fights. Photo opportunities with the next president of the United States are often to make any politician ready for the challenge.
What exactly is the challenge this year? Scanning both Democratic and Republican press releases, cities should have a minimum of 650,000 square feet to host the event with exclusive access to the space 60 days and up to 3 weeks after the event. The cost of these events can be up to a staggering $85 million, both host cities and major donors are expected to give and fundraise both through checks and in-kind donations.
This year, with two of the perhaps the most unpopular candidates in history, security is of extra import. In Cleveland, originally a 3.5 square-mile area was cornered off away from protestors. When the courts ruled against them, the area was narrowed. In Philadelphia, semi-transparent fencing will put up to separate the protesters from the Wells Fargo Center. The Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, will prohibit the use of drones and selfie sticks as a security precaution.
At the end of $85 million binge, what will be left? A slight bump in the polls, a shining accomplishment, or a political disaster waiting to happen? My money, not much –except a giant headache for taxpayers and donors