On Jan. 11, 2007, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean selected Denver as the host city for the Democratic National Convention. With the convention only 15 weeks away now, the activities calendar is filling up fast and the guest list keeps growing.Sky Gallegos, the DNC convention deputy CEO for intergovernmental affairs, and Jenny Anderson, the event director for the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, were on the Western Slope last week, talking to Democrats about the latest updates on the DNC Convention Aug. 25-28. One of their stops was in Glenwood Springs for a Garfield County Democratic Central Committee meeting. At least a dozen people from Garfield expressed interest in attending activities related to the convention.
Gallegos told local Democrats that convention organizers have raised their estimates by nearly 30 percent on how many delegates, media, visitors, volunteers and political VIPs the convention will draw.
“We now are estimating 40,000 to 50,000 people will be in Denver for the convention,” Gallegos said. The original estimate was 35,000. “We will have 6,000 delegates and at least 16,000 media – that’s three media for every delegate.”
According to Gallegos, convention organizers are pleased with the large number of volunteers planning to come to Denver to help. “We have signed up 21,000 volunteers, 6,000 from out of state. In comparison to the 2004 convention in Boston, only half that amount of volunteers had signed up,” she said.
Originally organizers estimated that 10,000 volunteers would be needed for Denver, “But we will split up duties to put as many volunteers to work,” Gallegos stressed to the Garfield Democrats. For instance, volunteers will be assigned recycling bins to make sure the correct items are being sorted. “We are still encouraging people to sign up,” she added.
Anderson said the host committee has been busy preparing for special events: “Our kick-off party for the media at Elitch Gardens Theme Park on Saturday, Aug. 23, will attract 10,000 to 15,000 people. Then on Sunday, there will be 24 different welcoming receptions in 24 different venues for the 54 delegate groups.”
According to Gallegos, there will be two main convention venues: the Pepsi Center, where the actual convention will be held; and the Colorado Convention Center, where meetings and events will be slated. Most of the events, other than the convention itself, will be open to the public.
Delegate hotels are grouped in three areas: the Tech Center, downtown Denver and at Stapleton. “We know some delegates are asking if they can stay with friends in the Denver area, but it is almost mandatory that delegates stay in their assigned hotels, because there will be special meetings they must attend to pick up their credentials and get special instructions,” Gallegos noted.
On July 7, the Pepsi Center will start its transformation into a presidential convention center. A false floor will be built above the miles of cable needed for the media, and special media pavilions will be set up outside.
“It takes a month and a half to install all the special convention equipment, but we will only have about a week to put the Pepsi Center back into its original condition,” Anderson said. “All improvements stay with the Pepsi Center, too.”
Anderson estimated that the Denver area would see a benefit of $150 million to $200 million from the convention. “Plus, we are encouraging delegates to stay in Colorado for the following Labor Day weekend.”
Gallegos said organizers are working hard to finalize plans with the convention less than about three months away. “We want to make sure everyone is happy there was a convention.”
Top photo: Sky Gallegos; second photo: Jenny Anderson by Leslie Robinson