Milwaukee picked to host 2020 Democratic National Convention

Selected over Miami Beach and Houston

DNC 2020 will be held at Fiserv Forum.


Milwaukee has been selected to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic National Committee announced Monday morning.

The convention will take place July 13 to 16, 2020.

It will mark the first time the Democratic Party has held a national convention in the Midwest since Chicago in 1996, and it’s the first major national party convention ever to be held in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee was selected over Miami Beach and Houston as potential host cities. The decision comes after months of anticipation and talks between the city and the DNC, including two visits from party officials.

“If we’re going to take back the White House, restore the guard rails of our democracy, and make government work for American families, we need to earn it,” DNC chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “We need to fight alongside our brothers and sisters in labor to build a brighter future together, and empower the diversity of our party and country. This choice is a statement of our values, and I’m thrilled Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people. We saw in this last election what we can accomplish when we come together, invest, and fight for working people, and that was proven right here in Wisconsin. I want to thank the leaders in Houston and Miami for all their hard work throughout this process. They both put forward competitive proposals that I’m sure will lead them to hosting future conventions.”

In response to the DNC’s selection, Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber voiced his disappointment, but said he is proud of the city’s effort.

“We appreciate Chairman Perez including us as a finalist and congratulate Milwaukee,” he said.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said the city is “deeply disappointed.”

“We wish the DNC convention planners well and look forward to using our facilities for other highly successful activities in July 2020,” he said.

Milwaukee’s bid committee throughout the selection process touted the implications of such an event, projecting it will attract about 50,000 visitors and generate about $200 million in economic impact to the area.

“This is a great day for the city of Milwaukee and for the state of Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement. “Milwaukee is a first-class city, and we are ready to showcase Milwaukee on one of the largest stages in the world.”

The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal on Monday began reporting that Milwaukee landed the convention immediately after Barrett’s State of the City address, held at Fiserv Forum.

Asked about the reports, Barrett drew from a line in his address, saying Milwaukee is “fighting back” in the decade following the economic crisis and housing market collapse.

“…My view is this is a city that fights back. And I think hosting the first ever political convention for a major party in this city’s history is monumental.”

Barrett pointed to Milwaukee’s strategic location in the Midwest as a big selling point for the convention.

“Certainly I think the fact that we are part of the country that is important to them (the Democrats),” he said. “I think that’s true for both parties. I think that was a major factor. I think we established for their purposes that we can do this.”

The four-day convention will mainly take place at Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, but there will be approximately 1,500 related events being held at venues throughout the city, impacting Milwaukee’s corporate, nonprofit, and small business communities, the local bid committee said. 

“The goal is to make sure that Milwaukee serves as a great showcase for the trophy of the 2020 convention,” said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Sheehy said the convention, as the largest and most important event taking place in 2020, will put Milwaukee in the national and global spotlight. With the convention falling in between Summerfest and Festa Italiana, he said local business owners and leaders can look forward to the summer of 2020 being busier than usual.

Preparations for the convention on a city, county and statewide level have already begun, according to the bid committee.

Those efforts include fundraising and enlisting “thousands” of volunteers who will help execute the event. The bid committee late last year launched the Supplier Diversity Initiative, which is an effort to recruit local, diverse businesses– meaning minority-, women-, LGBT-, service disabled-, or veteran-owned– to contract products or services with the convention and its committee.

Milwaukee area hotels are also preparing to provide the approximate 15,000 rooms that are used nightly during the convention.

Weeks before Milwaukee was selected as host city, The Pfister and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino had already reserved all rooms and accommodations for the convention’s use, according to a report from WISN 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

Due to the scale of the event, hotels in other areas of the the state have made similar arrangements. Last week, The Edgewater hotel in Madison confirmed it is holding rooms for the convention, though the amount was not disclosed. In addition, Destination Kohler, which operates five-star hotel The American Club and other hospitality concepts, said it has the convention “on the calendar and is planning accordingly.”

Milwaukee’s hotel accommodations were reportedly a major concern for the DNC throughout its deliberation process, but according to Visit Milwaukee, the area is equipped with the necessary number of hotel rooms.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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