What hosting the 2024 Democratic National Convention could mean for the city and suburbs

The Democratic National Convention will come to Chicago's United Center in 2024, a prize Illinois leaders see as an economic boon for the region while party officials said the state would mirror President Joe Biden's agenda.

The decision Tuesday by the Democratic National Committee comes after intense lobbying from top Illinois Democrats, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

"I'm thrilled Chicago has been selected to host the DNC," Pritzker said in a tweet. "I look forward to welcoming everyone to the Midwest and showing off our diverse communities, impeccable hospitality, and world-renowned venues. There is no better place to tell the story of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris."

The event will run Aug. 19-22, 2024.

"Chicago is a great choice to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention," Biden said in a statement.

"Democrats will gather to showcase our historic progress including building an economy from the middle out and bottom up, not from the top down. From repairing our roads and bridges, to unleashing a manufacturing boom, and creating over 12.5 million new good-paying jobs, we've already delivered so much for hard-working Americans - now it's time to finish the job."

Democratic National Committee leaders noted Illinois - along with Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota - was part of a "blue wall" in the 2020 election that Biden won and a "critical Democratic stronghold."

Duckworth, a DNC vice chair, said "the Midwest is key to a victory in 2024, and there is no city better positioned to reach those voters than Chicago."

"Illinois is a prime example of Democratic values," state Sen. Cristina Castro of Elgin said. "Look at the monumental pieces of legislation that we have passed under our governor. Democrats in the suburbs should be excited. Our state will be showcased on a national and international stage and they should be proud."

The last time the party held a convention in Chicago was for President Bill Clinton's reelection in 1996, and Tuesday's news electrified suburban Democrats.

"Chicago is the capital of the Midwest, and in my opinion, one of world's great cities," U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg said. "Chicago will benefit economically from this move, and finally I think it offers an opportunity to talk about Illinois and all the progress we've made."

"Illinois is a diverse state, in geography and in her people, representing the heart of the country," said Kristina Zahorik of McHenry County, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association.

The early estimate of 50,000 visitors for the convention means good things for the suburbs' tourism and hospitality industries, said Heather Larson, president and CEO of Schaumburg-based Meet Chicago Northwest.

There are about 45,000 hotel rooms available in Chicago, meaning that the 63 hotels in the Northwest suburbs will be looked upon to play a part as well, Larson said.

Though this is a golden opportunity for a hospitality industry still seeking full recovery from the lost revenues of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparations for the convention will be a study in coordination and cooperation, Larson said.

Meet Chicago Northwest and the other visitors bureaus throughout the suburbs will begin working almost immediately with the city's bureau, Choose Chicago, to take shares of the room blocks required, she said.

Larson said there really is no downside to the announcement of the convention, which isn't expected to have any chilling effect on events being booked for the suburbs themselves at the same time.

"This is the best news I've heard all week," Larson said. "This a shot in the arm to rejuvenate us."

DNC leaders scouted Chicago in July 2022. At an event touting the city, Pritzker stressed the city's expertise in producing major events. "Chicago is the convention capital of the world," he said. And, "hosting the DNC in Chicago will bring thousands of good-paying, labor-friendly jobs to our city and to our state," he said.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Eric Peterson contributed to this report.

Chicago will be home to the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Associated Press
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