Election 2020 Democratic Convention Milwaukee (copy)

The beers were hoisted when Milwaukee was announced as the host city for the Democratic National Convention: From left in front: Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. As of yet, no delegates plan to stay at hotels in the Madison area.

Madison’s hotel industry will still see economic benefits from the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee despite losing out on the opportunity to host state delegations, a national party official said Monday.

Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee in Milwaukee, said hotels in the Madison area have committed about 1,500 rooms for the DNC convention next July for members of the media and organized labor, lawmakers, donors and volunteers looking to watch the Democratic Party’s next presidential candidate be chosen.

The rooms haven’t yet been filled by those attendees, though Solmonese said he expects that to happen.

The development comes after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week reported nearly half of the 6,000 hotel rooms for state delegates will be located in Illinois, and none would be located in Madison.

Madison officials have said they remain optimistic that the July convention’s thousands of visitors will spend time and money in Dane County. Solmonese said convention visitors in Madison could have more free time due to their non-delegate status, meaning more dollars spent in the area.

“The delegates’ time is largely spoken (for) for all of their waking hours,” Solmonese said. “I would argue that there is probably greater economic impact in Madison by housing people there who have the opportunity to spend more time in Madison.”

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Of the state delegations, thirty-one will stay at hotels in the Milwaukee area, while 26 will stay in northern Illinois, including near O’Hare International Airport, which is the same distance from the Fiserv Forum as Madison.

Placing the state delegates was just the first step in the process, and the state delegations represent just a fraction of the total 17,000 rooms secured for the event. Solmonese said about two-thirds of those total rooms, or about 11,000 to 12,000, will be located in Wisconsin.

Solmonese estimates about 5,000 rooms will be located in downtown Milwaukee and 1,500 near General Mitchell Airport. The DNC also has secured a smattering of rooms in Racine, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Kenosha and Lake Geneva, among other places.

“Downtown Milwaukee, the airport, Madison are among the bigger hubs,” Solmonese said.

The convention is expected to bring as many as 50,000 visitors to the state and bring tens of millions of dollars to the area. The 2016 Democratic National Convention, for example, had a total economic impact of $230.9 million for host city Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau reported.

Solmonese said there were several factors that led the DNC to choose to place state delegations in groups of hotels in Lake County and Rosemont, Illinois. For the largest state delegations, such as California, Texas and Florida, the DNC’s top priority was finding hotels with more than 600 rooms that were clustered near each other, within a reasonable distance of downtown Milwaukee and that could host breakfast.

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