The nation learned of the selection of Charlotte as the site of the next Democratic National Convention via an e-mail written by First Lady Michelle Obama, notifying President Obama's e-mail list of the city’s selection. "I am thrilled to make sure you are the first to hear some very exciting news. Charlotte, North Carolina, will host the 46th Democratic National Convention in 2012,” the e-mail said. “Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an ‘up by the bootstraps’ mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South.”
The e-mail also spoke of making this convention a grassroots effort—“The People’s Convention,” as she called it—and linked readers to a Web site where they could share their ideas on how to make it belong to them and their community. In addition to electoral politics, Charlotte’s convention package undoubtedly contributed to its choice. The Charlotte Convention Center has 4,100 hotel rooms and a restaurant district within walking distance and is just a 20-minute drive from the airport. The city is home to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame and dozens of museums and attractions that could serve as venues for the convention’s many satellite events. It has hosted larger conventions than the DNC in the past, including the National Rifle Association, with 72,000 attendees, and the NCAA’s Final Four basketball .
“I think the DNC realized that you can go to a second-tier city and still get a first-tier experience,” said Michael Butts, executive director of Visit Charlotte. When asked what he thinks tipped the decision in his city’s favor, he referred to Mrs. Obama’s note, where she described the overall feeling she had when she and her family visited North Carolina on vacation. “The city is well-designed to accommodate major conventions, but it was more than that.”
Charlotte beat out Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Louis for the chance to host the Democrats. Officials estimate the convention will bring 35,000 visitors to the city, resulting in $150 to $200 million in revenues to area hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, according to www.Charlottein2012.com, a Web site created to promote the city’s DNC bid.
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