PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Democratic Party officials considering Philadelphia as a potential host for its 2016 national convention were treated to a tour of a sports arena, a famed cheesesteak shop and a raucous welcome as they arrived Wednesday for a two-day site visit.
The 18 members of the party's site committee are assessing the city's ability to host the convention. In particular, the committee is examining financial, logistical and security issues associated with putting on the convention, Democratic National Committee CEO Amy Dacey said.
Officials from the party were greeted by mascots, costume-clad band members known as Mummers and hundreds of cheering supporters as they arrived at a Center City hotel Wednesday morning. DNC officials had been in New York, which is among the cities looking to host the convention, for its site visit earlier this week. Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix also are competing to host the event.
The representatives on Wednesday had cheesesteaks at Pat's Steaks and took a trip to the Wells Fargo Center, the south Philadelphia arena where the convention would be held if Philadelphia wins its bid. The city's convention center also would be used for caucus meetings and other convention-related events.
Dacey wouldn't elaborate on the committee's opinion of the tour so far, but said the city's facilities were a "positive."
Local politicians touted the city's history and its previous experience with the 2000 Republican national convention as reasons the city is suitable as a host.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is the chairman of the nonprofit pushing the city's bid to hold the convention, said he's confident the nonprofit would be able to raise the funds necessary to put on the event if Philadelphia were chosen. Officials have said it could cost more than $50 million to hold the convention.
Though the DNC isn't expected to make a decision until the end of the year, Rendell said he's hopeful about the city's chances.
"We're not overconfident, but we're optimistic," Rendell said. "We would probably be the betting favorite, but not by much."
The two-day visit is expected to cost more than $200,000 between in-kind contributions and expenses from the nonprofit, said Kevin Washo, a lead strategist for the nonprofit.
Thursday's agenda includes a visit to the Comcast Center, a rally at the National Constitution Center and a reception at the Art Museum.