Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry took to Twitter Thursday night to argue out-of-state hotel assignments for Democratic National Convention delegates next year do not detract from the event’s overall impact on Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
That’s because the convention’s estimated 4,000 delegates make up only a fraction of the total number of visitors expected to descend upon the city from July 13 to 16, 2020.
Lasry’s tweets came after reports by multiple news outlets raised concerns about that almost half of the attending delegations will stay at hotels in Illinois.
“This convention is a game changer for Milwaukee,” Lasry, Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee finance chair, told BizTimes Milwaukee on Friday. “A vast majority of the 50,000 people will be staying in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. The people who aren’t will be spending 90% of their time there. There is going to be over $200 million of economic impact for Wisconsin, so it isn’t that Illinois is needed for Milwaukee to put on the convention, rather Milwaukee’s success and impact is lifting parts of Illinois. And that’s pretty remarkable.”
He explained via Twitter that Rosemont and Lake County were selected simply because hotels in Milwaukee and within its one-hour radius are already booked, not because of a hotel-room shortage. He pointed to past DNC host cities such as Denver (in 2008) and Philadelphia (in 2016), where hotel room bookings for those conventions, too, spilled into outstanding areas due to visitor influx.
In order to meet selection requirements, Lasry and the bid committee successfully secured 16,000 hotel rooms within 40 minutes of the city’s convention center district and Fiserv Forum, including as far west as Waukesha and as far south as Racine.
But, of course, that requirement was never meant to accommodate all visitors, which apart from delegates, includes media, lobbyists, sponsors, politicians and members of congress. So, the more- than- one-hour reach is not surprising.
BizTimes Milwaukee reported in March that visitors bureaus in Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Kenosha and Lake County, Ill. all confirmed hotels in those areas either have rooms on hold or have received reservation inquiries from groups attending the convention. Kenosha and Lake County visitors bureaus said they had made an agreement with VISIT Milwaukee to include rooms in those areas in the 16,000-room total.
“The 16,000 rooms within a 30-40 min drive of Milwaukee will ALL be used. And if it leads to economic impact for our neighbors in IL, then that’s great!!” Lasry said in a tweet.
As for Wisconsin’s delegation, travel times won’t be that far. The group will stay at the historic Ambassador Hotel on Milwaukee’s near west side.