City of Orlando
Office of Buddy Dyer

May 1, 2006

The Honorable Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Chairman Dean:

Thank you for the opportunity to allow us to participate in the 2008 Democratic National Convention's selection process.

Although Orlando continues to be an ideal location for the conventions and political gatherings, we will be bringing our efforts to secure the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions to an end.  After an extensive due diligence process involving local and statewide business, community, and political leaders, their recommendation is that it is not in our community's best interest to pursue the effort for this selection cycle.

I appreciate the support your staff has provided over the past six months in ensuring that we had access to accurate data and pertinent information.  Orlando welcomes an opportunity to host other events and functions in the future.


Buddy Dyer

Cc:   The Honorable Karen Thurman, Chair, Florida Democratic Party
        The Honorable Rich Crotty, Mayor, Orange County Government
        The Honorable Tim Shea, Chair, Orange County Democratic Party
        Bill Peeper, President, Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.

City of Orlando

May 1, 2006


TO:            Mayor Buddy Dyer

FROM:      Jose Fernandez, Senior Advisor for Public Policy and Business Development

RE:            National Political Conventions

Per your and Mayor Crotty's request, groups of local business and political leaders including members of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Florida Democratic Party, and Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association have been examining the possibility of hosting both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for 2008.  During the past six months, they have dedicated hundreds of hours reviewing both Request for Proposals, consulting with individuals who have provided leadership in managing previous political conventions, and evaluating the impact that these events could have on our economy and infrastructure.

In addition to the findings listed below, we also took into consideration the many benefits of hosting the convention from the economic development opportunities to the level of exposure Orlando would receive, and the potential increases in tourism.

Through this due diligence, the following points have been raised.
1. The approximate $78 million price tag to host one event is an estimate based on initial research.  Further estimates for satisfying the requirements/asks of the parties could move that figure closer to $100 million.
2. Both proposals require a number of luxury suites that cannot be accommodated at the TD Waterhouse Centre.  Therefore, among the larger expenses is the cost to build a 15,000-seat arena complete with suites inside the Orange County Convention Center, then tearing it down after the event.  This is estimated to cost $15 million.
3. Both parties are requesting access to the convention center for three to six months prior to the actual event in order to accommodate the setup.  The center schedules events 10 years or more in advance, and canceling shows that have already been booked could possibly represent a loss of up to $200 million.
4. If the convention center was utilized for the political convention, the previously booked convention business would be displaced and the net gain of hosting the political convention could be minimal when all economic factors are taken into consideration.
5. The security budget is difficult to gauge and driven by both the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies.  The initial estimate of $25 million for this line item would only increase, not decrease, as we move toward the 2008 event.
6. Energy (particularly driven by air conditioning) and production costs will be significant and may vary based on the economy and fluctuations in the pricing of fuel/oil in two years.
7. Hotels would need to block more than 20,000 rooms per convention through the end of the selection process representing a hold of one year.  If the convention is not awarded this could severely affect rates for years to come.
8. As the travel and tourism industry is a staple of the Orlando economy, there is concern for the displaced leisure and business traveler to Orlando during the weeks before, during, and immediately following the political convention.

With all of the information gathered throughout this process, the consensus of the community organizations, the political groups, and City staff is that we do not submit a proposal for either Convention in 2008, but rather pursue the possibility of hosting one of the national presidential debates.  A national debate hosted in Orlando would allow us to showcase the best our community has to offer from our fine amenities to our great hospitality.  It would also remind national leaders of the importance Orlando plays on the political stage.

I thank you for your vision in allowing us to explore this community opportunity.