After being asked for bids by the Republicans and Democrats, Indianapolis won’t be the host city of a national political party convention in 2016.
News broke this past week that the Democratic National Committee put Indianapolis on a list of 15 cities it would request a proposal from. The city was already out of the running for the Republican National Convention.
“The city has studied this for many, many months when we were first approached,” said Marc Lotter, communications director for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “The city already has 18 other conventions booked during the time frame the two parties were looking at to host conventions.”
The mayor’s office considered the opportunities to be the host city for either convention but realized the drain on city resources would be too significant to make it work, Lotter said. The cost to the city and private donors could be massive.
“The financial commitment would be double the amount of money required to host a Super Bowl,” he said.
The Marion County Democratic Party, meanwhile, is crying foul. Joel Miller, chair of the county party organization, said the city refused to bid for the Democrats’ convention without seriously considering it in the first place.
“My issue with what the city did wasn’t the fact that they denied it, it’s the fact that they denied it before ever even considering it,” Miller said. “I think they denied it because it’s the Democratic convention.”
That’s not the case, Lotter said. Refusing to bid on the conventions was not a political ploy by Ballard, a Republican, he said.
“This is, again, both political parties,” Lotter said. “This is not about one party or the other.”
The Marion County Republican Party could not be reached for comment.
Still, Ballard’s office and the Democrats are in agreement on one point: Indianapolis shouldn’t rule out a national party convention at a later point.
Even though 2016 isn’t an option, Visit Indy, the tourism and conference bureau for the city, is always looking at opportunities like the political conventions, Lotter said. In 2000, the city placed a bid for the Republican convention. It has received initial interest in a bid for other election years, as well.
“We’re considered the No. 1 convention city in the country,” Miller said. “We can put on NASCAR races, the Indy 500, Super Bowls, NCAA final fours. If we can do all of those things, we should certainly be able to come together to put on something like one of the national political party conventions.”