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Anaheim City Officials Lobby Republicans and Democrats
for a 2008 Convention; But Whether it’s Worth
the Effort is a Matter of Debate
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By Sandi Cain,  September, 2004

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and a delegation of city officials will visit the Republican National Convention this month to lobby on behalf of Anaheim for the 2008 convention.

A similar effort took place at the recently concluded Democratic Convention in Boston.

But whether it’s worth the effort is a matter of debate.

Anaheim’s image would get a boost from hosting a political convention, said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

“All that media coverage with a dateline ‘Anaheim’ is good,” he said. “One of the problems Anaheim has is that we’re not a household name to those who make decisions in the corporate board rooms.”

Ahlers and others point to the publicity value Major League Baseball’s World Series and the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup brought to the city and believe a political convention would do the same.

“You’re getting PR benefit you couldn’t purchase,” he said.

Officials in Los Angeles and Boston might disagree.

When Los Angeles hosted the 2000 Democratic Convention, the entire jewelry district shut down for a week because of street closures in the area, said Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

Boston didn’t see much of an economic benefit in July for its Democratic Convention.

For the upcoming Republican Convention, New York has an operating budget of $60 million, and expects 14,000 delegates, 15,000 journalists and 8,000 volunteers to be in town for the week.

Its security budget is $46 million—$37 million of which is paid for by the federal government.

Though some cities now raise private funding to bid on and host major events like political conventions, Kyser doesn’t think the cost is worth it.

“The city has to put up a lot of money for dubious economic impact,” he said.

No plans for funding the bid have been announced by Anaheim. A request for comment from the mayor’s office wasn’t answered.

Kyser said political delegates don’t behave like normal tourists—they don’t go out to the restaurants or the tourist venues. And media representatives typically show up only for, well, the main show.

In Anaheim, the typical summer timing of the conventions could be especially problematic, as they’re held at the height of tourist season at Disneyland—across the street from the convention center.

“It would knock out several weeks of tourism,” Kyser said.

It might add to the security challenge as well.

While New York has 35,000 police officers, Anaheim has a force of roughly 300. The city called on other law enforcement agencies to assist during the World Series in 2002. But security for an event such as a political convention calls for more than controlling exuberant fans.

In all, Kyser said Anaheim is better off remaining a tourist town.

“If Anaheim wants to be home to the happiest place on earth, I’d tell them not to bid,” Kyser said.

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Sandi Cain is a freelance writer and contributor to the Orange County Business Journal and meetings industry publications. She specializes in hospitality, tourism and travel. Cain holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Kent State University in Ohio, where she majored in social studies. A former high school teacher, she has written for niche-market sports publications in the U.S., England and Australia and formerly worked in both the printing and high-tech industries. A Cleveland, Ohio native, Cain hasbeen a resident of Laguna Beach since the late ’70s. She enjoys travel, gardening, reading and spoiling her three cats.
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###

Contact:
Sandi Cain
Laguna Beach CA
949-497-2680
scainado@earthlink.net

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