Delegates to next year’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee will be staying as far away as an 80-minute drive south near Chicago, but none will be staying 80 minutes west in Madison.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday reported that 31 state delegations will stay at hotels in the Milwaukee area, while another 26 will stay in northern Illinois, including near O’Hare International Airport.
Democratic Party officials declined to provide delegate housing details or explain why Madison was excluded.
Madison officials say they remain positive that the July convention’s thousands of visitors will spend some time — and money — in Dane County.
“My focus is just on supporting Milwaukee to make sure that the convention is a success for everybody,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of folks here in Madison and we’ll stand ready to host them.”
Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said she was not involved in the DNC’s planning process, but said she also expects the event to have a positive economic impact.
“I trust that the DNC, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and all who are at the table in making these decisions, have Wisconsin’s best interest at heart and are working hard to ensure a successful convention in tandem with showcasing all that Wisconsin has to offer — including right here in Madison,” she said.
Delegates will be housed in seven groups of hotels, according to the Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin hotels will provide 2,926 rooms to delegates and Illinois hotels will provide 2,841.
Delegates staying in Illinois will be split between groups of hotels in Lake County and Rosemont.
Rosemont is just east of O’Hare and about 80 miles from Fiserv Forum, comparable to the distance to Madison. Racine, Kenosha and Sheboygan also will not host delegates.
All told, the convention is expected to bring as many as 50,000 visitors to the state — including delegates, members of the media and volunteers — and bring tens of thousands of dollars to the area.
The 2016 Democratic National Convention had a total economic impact of $230.9 million for its host city, Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau reported.
Deb Archer, president and CEO of Destination Madison, said in an email she had been in contact with the DNC and their housing company since Milwaukee was announced as the Democratic National Convention host city back in March.
At the request of the DNC, several Madison and Dane County hotels have room blocks set aside for potential visitors at the time of the convention.
“While the DNC has announced where the state delegations will stay, there are still thousands of other attendees who will need rooms,” Archer said. “We will continue to work with the DNC and their housing company to assist with accommodations as needed.”
Department of Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney said the event still should provide an economic boon and “the political road to Milwaukee is also the traveler’s road to Wisconsin.”
“Lodging will be a two-state effort,” Meaney said. “Yet, regardless of where they sleep at night, 100% of delegations will be spending their days in Wisconsin. Travel Wisconsin and our partners are ready to welcome delegates, journalists and guests, encourage them to stay a little longer and to show them how much fun they can have while they are here.”