Milwaukee secures line of credit for its 2020 Democratic Convention bid

Milwaukee secures line of credit for its 2020 Democratic Convention bid

Great article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Milwaukee secures line of credit for its 2020 Democratic Convention bid

Organizers of Milwaukee’s bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention have lined up a third-party line of credit, clearing the last major hurdle in the city’s quest to host the convention, Mayor Tom Barrett said Wednesday.

“That issue has been resolved,” Barrett said. “I have secured a line of credit, which is guaranteed, that really meets the needs that have been brought to us. And I’m continuing to do more.”

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Barrett declined to provide the total financial amount of the guarantee, as well as the names of individuals or groups providing it.

“We’ll get you more information on that, but I did a lot of work and we have some really good people in Milwaukee and other places that have recognized how important this is to our community,” Barrett said. “They’ve stepped up, and are stepping up.”

The money essentially serves as a backstop for the bid.

The news comes as representatives from Milwaukee held meetings Wednesday with Democratic party leaders in Washington, D.C., as part of their final pitch on why Milwaukee should beat out the other finalists — Miami Beach and Houston —  for the convention that will be held July 13-16, 2020.

Barrett said they held “productive talks all day long.”

The backstop wouldn’t come into play until after the convention, and only then if the host committee falls short of fundraising and runs a deficit.

Barrett has repeatedly said he didn’t want to put city taxpayer money at risk.

“I’ve made it clear for a long period of time that the city would not be the one to guarantee a line of credit, and the state is not interested in doing that,” Barrett said. “I’m someone who sees a lot of value in having the convention here; at the same time I have a very strong fiduciary obligation to the taxpayers of the city.”

The mayor added, “I held true to that all the way through this.”

The pick is expected to be announced in mid- to late February, with the winning committee putting up $5 million when it signs the contract with the Democratic National Committee.

According to the DNC’s requests for proposals, the winning bid will need a $20 million line of credit. But that’s likely open for negotiations based on the size of the city and the projected costs of the convention.

Milwaukee organizers have said a convention here would cost up to $70 million to stage, with the money raised privately.

In the past, Democratic conventions have been funded by large donors, unions and corporations.

Philadelphia’s host committee raised $85.4 million for the 2016 Democratic Convention, which included a  $10 million grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

The federal government provides each convention city a grant to cover security costs.

The last time a line of credit was not repaid for a Democratic convention was in 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The shortfall was $6 million.

Besides Wisconsin being a battleground state, another advantage for Wisconsin is that Fiserv Forum, the proposed convention site, is a state-of-the-art arena.

Co-chairs of the Milwaukee DNC 2020 Host Committee include U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, County Executive Chris Abele and Barrett.

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