COVID-19 robbed Milwaukee of its opportunity to shine in the national spotlight. Milwaukee was supposed to be the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which would have been the biggest event ever hosted by the city.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, the 2020 DNC instead became a mostly virtual event, hardly anyone came to Milwaukee and the city missed out on the expected $200 million economic boost plus the prestige and publicity for hosting a national political convention.
But Milwaukee could get another chance. Recently, DNC chairperson Jaime Harrison invited 20 cities, including Milwaukee, to consider submitting a bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.
A lot of events that were canceled in 2020 were postponed, like the recently completed summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Some venues are getting another chance to host events that were canceled by the pandemic, like Las Vegas, which lost the chance to host the NFL Draft in 2020 and will instead host it in 2022.
Milwaukee deserves the chance to actually host a full-fledged DNC and should be the favorite for 2024. The reasons to have the convention in Milwaukee haven’t changed, including Milwaukee’s status as a crucial swing state and the Democratic Party’s need to connect with the Heartland of America.
Milwaukee’s case could be even stronger for 2024. Some doubted a city of Milwaukee’s size is capable of hosting an event that draws 50,000 visitors. But the NBA Finals showed Milwaukee’s ability to handle huge crowds in the Deer District and Fiserv Forum (where the DNC would be held). The expansion of the Wisconsin Center is expected to be complete in 2024 and would be another asset for the city.
While Milwaukee certainly should be the DNC’s choice for 2024, it won’t be easy. It takes a massive organizational and fundraising effort to win the convention bid and pull the event off. For the 2020 DNC, $42 million was raised, and that effort would have to be repeated.
There is a sense that some in Milwaukee just don’t have the heart to put forth the effort and energy to try to get the DNC again after the huge 2020 letdown. But this is such a huge opportunity for Milwaukee. This is no time to give up; it’s time for leadership to step up. But will they?
“The formal process of assembling a bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention requires quite a number of partners here in Milwaukee, and I will be consulting with those partners as we make decisions about moving forward,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
“What we’re trying to assess right now is whether the leaders and businesses who helped fund the previous bid are willing to do so again,” Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy said.
Milwaukee’s leaders need to go all in on trying to lure the DNC, or the Republican National Convention, in 2024 … or beyond.n