The City of Brotherly Love is becoming the City of Big Events.
Philadelphia’s selection Thursday as host of next year’s Democratic National Convention comes as it prepares for Pope Francis’ visit in September.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who led Philadelphia’s convention bid, said it’s time for the city to roll up its sleeves and show itself off as a world-class host.
“We got the best show in town,” said Brady.
South Philadelphia’s stadium and arena complex is close to the airport, and shuttles can run up and down Broad Street to the hotels in downtown, Brady said. And the city has its historical landmarks such as Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center to show off: Mayor Michael Nutter led the Democratic Party’s national chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and convention planners on a tour of venues and historical sites two weeks ago.
In addition to infrastructure such as hotels and mass transit, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Philadelphia’s success in hosting the 2000 Republican National Convention seemed to give it a crucial advantage over the other Democratic finalists, Brooklyn, New York, and Columbus, Ohio.
Casey called the selection process a “fierce and difficult competition” that left him in suspense until Wasserman Schultz called him Thursday morning.
Proponents say the convention will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the region.
The logistics of the city’s bid and its assurance that it would be able to handle the estimated $65 million cost associated with the convention were also factors in its selection. City officials have said public money won’t go toward that figure.
Brady said he began assembling the city’s bid two years ago, bringing in Nutter, former mayors and union and business leaders to ensure everybody would support it. Brady also kidded that the city had a better marketing ploy — it’s the City of Brotherly Love, the city of affection — and famous for its food.
That was on display for the party’s site selection committee’s visit.
“It didn’t hurt that we fed them real good,” Brady said. “They all gained 10 pounds. Everywhere they went we had cheesesteaks for them.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, tweeted: “Great news. Philly will be a terrific host.”
Philadelphia last hosted the Democrats in 1948, when the party’s nomination went to President Harry Truman. Republican nominated then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the city in 2000.
Before the next round of delegates flock to Philadelphia, the pilgrims will.
More than 1.5 million people are expected to visit when Pope Francis celebrates mass on the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sept. 27.
SOURCE: The Associated Press