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New hotels might help Milwaukee's chances to land the RNC

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 20:42:48-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee now faces off against Nashville as a finalist for the 2024 Republican National Convention (RNC).

Since Milwaukee has already landed a major convention, the Democratic National Convention (DNC), and made improvements to accommodate it, Visit Milwaukee thinks it gives the Brew City an advantage.

“What other city can say that they just planned and prepared for a major political convention as recently as us. Nashville can’t say that,” said Claire Koenig, communications director of Visit Milwaukee.

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The jumbotron with the RNC graphics in Fiserv Forum on Thursday.

If you remember, because of COVID-19, the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee turned mostly virtual. However, Koenig says Milwaukee was ready to host 50,000 visitors. Hotels like the Drury Plaza Hotel were one of a handful that opened and was ready to welcome in DNC delegates. It opened its doors in October of 2019.

“Obviously building a hotel for one week out of the year isn’t feasible. We were planning on being open and we were looking forward to a busy convention, but we didn’t build just for the DNC,” says Chris Palid, general manager of the Drury Plaza Hotel.

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Reporter Rebecca Klopf and Chris Palid, general manager of the Drury Plaza Hotel, talk inside the hotel lobby.

Even with those extra accommodations, Milwaukee still did not have enough hotel space for the DNC, so there were plans in place to bus delegates from Chicago to Milwaukee. That would not be the case for the 2024 RNC, because of the combination of more hotels and fewer delegates.

“The RNC is a bit smaller attendee wise than the DNC. RNC is about 45,000. DNC would have been about 50,000. So it all, that means is that we can definitely accommodate all of their attendees in in the greater market area,” said Koenig.

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For Milwaukee and Nashville, they both use primary buses as the main means of transportation. Both claim a compact city with easy access to the airport. However, Tennessee Republican Party Chair says Nashville's advantage is hotels. They have more of them and more that are higher end.

But, places like the Drury Plaza Hotel says they have a lot of options. They say they have the room and the ability to accommodate anything the delelgates would want.

“Dinners, lunches, breakfasts, event space, after-hours receptions. We were planning on being very busy for the entire convention,” said Palid.

Politico has said Milwaukee is the favorite to land the RNC. But both cities still need to give presentations in Washington. That will happen next week.

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