Planning Your Week Around the Convention

June 2008
It's 81 days until the Democratic Convention in August. If you're thinking gridlock will make getting to work or staying in town unpleasant, you'll be pleased to learn that's not the case. Mayor Hickenlooper's office sent out a press release today. Here are the key details: It's true that 50,000 people are expected to attend, observe or report on the convention between Saturday, August 23 and Thursday, August 28. But, consider that this is fewer people than attend Rockies and Broncos games:
Denver has hosted games in all three downtown stadiums at the same time, involving close to 150,000 people. The Convention visitors - who won't all be downtown at the same time - will spend significant amounts of time inside the Colorado Convention Center, Pepsi Center and other event venues. Downtown restaurants will be open for business - and should be able to easily accommodate local diners as activity on the Convention floor takes place between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Most of the security will be around the Pepsi Center, so even downtown residents and workers will be able to get in and easily. Transportation won't be greatly impacted. The security measures in place near the Pepsi Center will have a minimal impact on roadways, businesses and residences. You won't run into continual screening situations or be unable to get to your car or residence. Downtown Denver will be accessible. IThe visitors will be spending their time at the Pepsi Center during the hours of 4pm to 9pm. Those hours don't affect the morning and evening commutes. In other words, downtown Denver will be as accessible as normal. Security plans are being formed with an eye towards not inconveniencing city residents. City offices will be open and services provided as usual.
By engaging law enforcement officers from neighboring jurisdictions to assist during the Convention, we will have the staffing to cover Convention-related security needs as well as the City of Denver's standard operational and safety needs.
What about the protesters? The city says they will occupy Civic Center, Skyline Park and other downtown parks during the week of the Convention. We've had 75,000 to 100,000 protesters before ia raly in City Park with no major problems. It's anticipated that protester occupation of the parks will not be an inconvenience. In fact, Taste of Colorado will be set up there as usual that weekend. Mayor Hickenlooper writes:
Thank you for your efforts to ensure that Denver shines as a host city and capitalizes on this opportunity to showcase our community's successes to the world. We appreciate your patience during the planning process and look forward to providing you more details about security, mobility and access as soon as they are available.
Probably the hardest thing to learn is the names of the components of the DNCC Host Committee. They are the Democratic National Convention Committee, the City and County of Denver, Kroenke Sports and its own Executive Committee. If you've got questions, start with them. Having been in Boston during the 2004 Convention, I know that our's will run more smoothly. Denver is laid out better, our roads and streets are wider and we've got better public transportation. From my own observations, I can say there are two groups that may want to take a vacation during the convention: lawyers and criminal offenders. At least a few of the outlying courts are not scheduling trials or hearings during the week of the convention because their police officers will be on loan to Denver and unavailable to attend trials. Think what a nightmare it would be to get busted that week and not have a judge around to set bail and send you home. Now that the Democratic nominee has been presumptively determined, other details should shape up pretty fast and a greater focus can be made on raising the necessary remaining funds needed to host a top-flight event. I'll be attending the final media walk-through at the Pepsi Center on June 19, and will report back with any new information. Bottom line: Stick around, participate and enjoy the festivities. It really is a historic event, one you and your families -- even your kids -- can enjoy and remember for years to come. The fact that the party will soon be unified means it will be free of rancor and floor fights and everyone will be in vacation mode and having a good time in our great city.