by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The city of Concord was blind-sided Monday night by a decision to move the Democratic National Convention’s kickoff party to uptown Charlotte.
On Tuesday, city officials learned that the time and tax money spent preparing for the Labor Day event is lost and will not be reimbursed.
And now Charlotte has to prepare for a massive festival in addition to the other preparations it was making connected to the convention.
Bloomberg is reporting the change in venue is because the Democratic National Convention Committee is $27 million short of its fundraising goal.
The DNC Host Committee organized a last-minute news conference Tuesday afternoon to answer questions about the change.
Officials refused to answer questions about fundraising, but said the kickoff party is paid for out of a different fund that can accept corporate donations.
Instead, DNC officials blamed the change on logistical concerns.
In January, DNC leaders announced the kickoff event would be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, six months later, convention organizers took a hard left turn.
Speedway spokesman Scott Cooper said the FBI was taking pictures and planning security at the track just two weeks ago.
“There are some clauses in the contract, which cover time and expenses already put forth,” he said. “But we are disappointed.”
Concord’s public affairs manager, Peter Franzese, said he was surprised the decision was made to move it considering how soon the kickoff event is scheduled.
Concord city workers invested hours working, too, but they do not have a contract to pay them back.
“”Police and fire, transportation have been working, running under the assumption we’re going to have a national security event here in Concord,” Franzese said.
That also means restaurants that had been hoping for a great sales day are now lowering their expectations.
The host committee has refused to release the contract with the speedway, saying it is a private contract.
Dr. Dan Murray, the host committee chair, said the move is due to logistical concerns of getting the delegates and voters to the speedway.
“We found that the caucus meetings could be better held in the convention center,” Murray said.
But why was the host committee unable to see the logistical challenge in January, before announcing the speedway event?
“Conventions have a lot of moving parts, and a lot of decisions about what you can do don’t come until much further down the process,” he said.
The host committee said the Labor Day event will be on the North Tryon Street corridor with easy access from buses and the light rail. They said it will look like a typical street festival.
The Republican National Committee claimed Tuesday the real reason for the move is low enthusiasm for the president and poor management of the convention’s fundraising.