Although nearly half of the delegations attending next year’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee are staying in Illinois hotels — and none will be rooming in Madison — Wisconsin’s Democratic Party head says the state “will be brimming with visitors” come next summer.
That includes non-delegation attendees who will seek out rooms in the southeastern part of the state in places like Madison, Racine, Kenosha and other communities, Chair Ben Wikler told reporters Friday.
The comments came after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that 26 of the 57 delegations attending the DNC are staying in northern Illinois, while the other 31 will be in the Milwaukee area. The breakdown means 2,841 hotel rooms will be used for delegates in Illinois, while 2,926 rooms will be used in Wisconsin, according to the publication.
But Wikler noted the 2020 delegates count for “only a tiny fraction” of those who will attend the convention, a list that includes journalists, activists and volunteers.
“From the perspective of economic development, this is an enormous boon for the state of Wisconsin,” he said in a conference call. “Not only will the economic activity generated by the delegates housed in Illinois take place overwhelmingly in Wisconsin, but the overwhelming share of guests from across the country and the world will be staying in Wisconsin, including my beautiful hometown of Madison.”
Asked why more delegates wouldn’t be directed to rooms in Racine, Kenosha or Madison, Wikler responded: “You know, $1 spent in a hotel room is 100 cents whether it was spent by a state delegation or by a national news network or by a progressive advocacy group.”
Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, who chaired Milwaukee's 2020 DNC Bid Committee, wrote in a series of tweets that the number of convention attendees -- 50,000 -- "forces overflow into other areas."
"The 16,000 rooms within a 30-40 min drive of Milwaukee will ALL be used," he wrote. "And if it leads to economic impact for our neighbors in IL, then that’s great!! We’re happy to be the rising tide to lift all boats."
In Madison, marketing organization Destination Madison's President and CEO Deb Archer noted there will be “thousands of other attendees who will need rooms.”
She said that several Madison and Dane County hotels have blocked off rooms for potential convention attendees next July, and added her group “will continue to work with the DNC and their housing company to assist with accommodations as needed.”
Outside of hotels, rental platform Airbnb is also looking ahead to next summer.
Spokesman Sam Randall wrote in an email Airbnb is "looking forward to working with our Milwaukee host community and local stakeholders to ensure the convention provides a lasting economic impact for the region."