Back The Site Selection Process

Only about 30 American cities have the facilities, infrastructure and wherewithall to host one of the major party's quadrennial nominating conventions. For both the Democrats and the Republicans, the process of selecting the convention site takes almost a year.  A national convention provides a city with a substantial public relations and economic boost (Chicago and San Diego, sites of the 1996 conventions, each tallied well over $100 million in direct economic benefits) so there is intensive wooing.  Members of the parties' respective site committees, during their visits to the cities being considered, are feted with tours, rallies, and fine meals as each city seeks to make the best possible impression.

The site committees look at the infrastructure of each city, including the convention hall itself, auxiliary space, ability to meet media requirements, adequacy of hotel rooms, transportation, and security. Cities also make a financial commitment for welcoming and promotional activities surrounding the convention. In addition, the site committees consider more intangible factors such as how a city will reflect the message the party wants to send. The importance of the state or region in terms of electoral votes is a dominant selling point, but many other factors enter into the equation.  For example, a city can point to its Hispanic population as aid to winning the Hispanic vote or it can present itself as a city of the 21st century or a city representing solid midwestern values.

Although the Democratic and Republican site selection processes unfold along similar timelines, there are a few differences.  The Democrats' is an site advisory committee, making recommendations to the party chairs, while the Republicans' is a site selection committee actually selects the site, subject to approval.  Also, the Democrats' site committee was a rather unwieldy 49 persons compared to just nine for the Republicans.

Republican Site Selection

On November 5, 1998, after a process which began on December 5, 1997, the Republican National Committee's site selection committee recommended that the GOP's 2000 convention be held in Philadelphia.  In a statement, RNC chairman Jim Nicholson said, "The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall will make a compelling backdrop for nominating a president and promoting our party's vision for a better America in the 21st century."  The full 165-member RNC approved the choice of Philadelphia at its winter meeting in January 1999.

Republican Site Selection Timeline

  • Dec. 5, 1997    RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson names committeewoman Jan Larimer of Wyoming as Chairman of the site selection committee.
  • Jan. 17, 1998   The eight other members of the site selection committee are elected, one woman and one man from each of the RNC's four regions.
  • Jan. 20, 1998   RNC sends invitations to 25 cities to submit proposals.
  • End of May 1998    List has been narrowed to 8 cities: Charlotte, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and San Antonio.  (Los Angeles submitted a proposal but withdrew when it became apparent the GOP would not hold its convention in Southern California two consecutive cycles).
  • June 1-Aug. 4, 1998    Site selection committee visits each of the eight cities and evaluates the respective proposals.
  • Aug. 10, 1998    RNC narrows list to 5 cities: Indianapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and San Antonio.
  • Aug. 26-Oct. 16, 1998    Site selection committee makes a second round of visits to the 5 remaining cities, dissecting their bids and checking everything from the number of quality hotel rooms to the acoustics of domes or convention halls.
  • Nov. 5, 1998    Site selection committee recommends that the 2000 Republican National Convention be held in Philadelphia.
  • Nov.-Dec. 1998    Party and city officials negotiate a contractual agreement for the convention.
  • Jan. 22, 1999    At the party's annual winter meeting, the 165 members of the RNC vote to officially designate Philadelphia the site of the 2000 convention.
Los Angeles

Democratic Site Selection

On March 15, 1999 after a process which began on December 3, 1997, Democrats announced the selection of Los Angeles as the site for the 2000 Democratic National Convention.  Democrats started by inviting 28 cities to submit proposals.
By May 1998 the list had been pared to seven cities, which the DNC's 49-member site advisory committee visited during the summer.  On November 12, 1998 the committee held its final meeting in Washington, DC and recommended three cities: Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles. 

Democrats had originally planned to announce their final selection in late 1998 or early 1999. Los Angeles, boosted by the prospect of California's 54 electoral votes and by the Democrats' strong performance in 1998 elections in the state, was strongly favored.  Vice President Gore backed Los Angeles, although he did not have an official role in the process.  Conventional wisdom was that Denver (home to Roy Romer) and Boston (home to Steve Grossman) were kept in the race to leverage a better deal from Los Angeles.  Los Angeles' bid was unusual in that the convention contract was with the host committee rather than with the city itself.  Negotiations proved difficult and extended all the way into March before the deal was finally sealed.

Democratic Site Selection Timeline

  • Dec. 3, 1997    DNC National Chairman Steve Grossman and General Chairman Roy Romer invite 27 cities to submit proposals.  New York City is later added, bringing the total to 28.
  • Jan. 9-10, 1998    At the DNC executive committee meeting in Washington, DC, Grossman and Romer announce the members of the 2000 Democratic National Convention site advisory committee.  Chair of the 49-person committee is Joe Andrew, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.
  • Jan. 16, 1998    Deadline for cities to submit a written response to the Preliminary General Requirements.  DNC has received letters of interest from 15 cities.
  • March 6, 1998    DNC sends out RFPs to 13 cities which meet the Preliminary General Requirements: Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Seattle.
  • April 17, 1998    RFPs due.  9 cities submit proposals: Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Seattle.
  • May 7, 1998    Site advisory committee meets in Washington during the first day of the DNC's annual spring meeting and reaches a consensus on visiting 7 cities: Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
  • May 27-Sept.15, 1998    Site advisory committee visits each of the seven cities.
  • Nov. 5, 1998    Philadelphia, having secured the 2000 Republican Convention, withdraws from consideration.
  • Nov. 12, 1998    Site advisory committee holds its final meeting in Washington and recommends Boston, Denver and Los Angeles to party chairs Grossman and Romer.
  • March 15, 1999    DNC announces selection of Los Angeles as the host city.
Charlotte Seattle

Site Visits
June 1-3 Philadelphia, PA May 27-29 Minneapolis, MN
June 3-5 Charlotte, NC June 10-12 New Orleans, LA
June 9-11 New York, NY June 22-24 Boston, MA
June 24-26 New Orleans, LA June 30-July 2 Philadelphia, PA
June 28-30 San Antonio, TX July 15-17 Miami, FL
July 8-10 Chicago, IL July 27-29 Los Angeles, CA
July 26-28 Indianapolis, IN Aug. 10-12 Denver, CO
Aug. 2-4 Minneapolis, MN Sept. 15-17 Philadelphia, PA

Copyright 1998, 1999 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.