$163.6 million. That’s the big final figure - the overall economic impact – linked to the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
It was the largest event Charlotte had seen. There were 6,400 delegates, 15,000 media members, and 13,500 other visitors all spending money in the Queen City.
But was it worth the cost?
“Many of the economic numbers that promoters throw around don’t subtract out the business that would be occurring anyway,” UNCC professor and researcher Eric Heberlig said.
Heberlig did an independent study on the 2012 DNC. He says a cost some don’t consider is the money not made by smaller Uptown businesses when sudden security blocks and new traffic routes keep people from their storefronts.
“Often with the security demands of the convention, that ordinary business can’t occur,” he said.
As for the cost of hosting - while the 2012 DNC was a pricey event, most did not come from taxpayer pockets.
Charlotte received $50 million in a federal grant for security, including things like training, a new command center, and truckloads of new equipment.
Host committees also paid $8.2 million for renovations at Time Warner Cable Arena and Bank of America Stadium, including seats, staging, lighting, and Wifi. The committees also funded staff, food, the rental of spaces, promotions, and transportation - all totaling more than $42 million.
While Heberlig says there are a few industries like hospitality and construction that will see big bucks from a political convention, according to his studies, some won’t see a dime.
“Everybody else, if they’re waiting for an economic windfall, they’re probably not going to see it, and therefore tend to get disappointed after the convention has come through, and they’re expecting money to be falling from the sky and it doesn’t,” he said.
His final analysis: It’s the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Some Charlotteans will make out very well, others will hardly see a dime.
“An event that occurs for a few days is just going to be a drop in the bucket to a city economy,” Heberlig said. “So yes it’s a plus, but no it’s not going to change people’s lives.”
Preparations like the renovations to the arena and stadium started in 2011 for the DNC. So, if Charlotte is granted the 2020 RNC, the city will likely see that starting again soon.
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