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Local News

Coveted DNC Hotel Assignments Handed Out

http://66.225.205.104/JR20120114.mp3

Two Uptown hotels - the Westin and the Hilton Center City - have snagged the coveted role of headquarters for the Democratic National Convention. That's where the planning committee, national Democratic Party and Obama campaign will base operations during the convention in September. But 56 hotels from South Park to Concord Tuesday learned they, too, will get a piece of convention business, housing thousands of delegates from around the country. State party delegations don't get to choose their hotels. It's a little like dorm assignments for college freshmen - you give your preferences, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Washington's 100 delegates have been assigned to stay at the Hilton Charlotte Executive Park near Tyvola Road. "It wasn't one of our top three, but taking a look at what we see online, we're pretty happy with it," says Washington Democratic Party executive director Jaxon Ravens. "It looks affordable. It looks like it's close to Bill Spoon's Barbecue, which is supposed to be pretty amazing, so we're happy about that." Ravens knew the chances of Washington getting its top hotel choice were slim. States held a lottery and drew numbers to see who would get priority in the accommodations game. Washington drew #41. Vermont got #1 and precisely the hotel it hoped for - the Hilton Center City. "We're extremely pleased to be in such proximity to where everything is going to be happening - particularly as such a small state to be afforded such a choice position," says Vermont Democratic Party chairman Jake Perkinson. Vermont's 27 delegates won't even need a shuttle to get to the convention at Time Warner Cable Arena. Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Steve Kerrigan is quick to point out all 56 hotels housing delegates are within 20 minutes of Uptown, which is unusual for the convention. "Folks from around the country will scream in joy and excitement that they don't have to spend an hour and 20 minutes in traffic to get to the convention facility," says Kerrigan. Many of the hotels say they expect to bring in extra staff from sister hotels in other cities or draw from a local pool of part-time workers to meet the banquet needs of convention delegates. Two of the biggest delegations - New York and Pennsylvania - will be at the Renaissance and Marriott Hotels in South Park. The Great Wolf Lodge near Concord Mills, will play a fitting host to the delegations from Montana and Texas. Conspicuously absent from the list is the posh Ritz Carlton Uptown. It may have been too expensive for state parties since many of them require delegates pay their own way. Convention organizers say state delegations were not given the option of staying at the Ritz, which will be most likely house VIP donors, campaign staff and elected officials, instead. To that end, the DNC has more 15,000 rooms under contract in 150 hotels from Salisbury to Rock Hill. State party officials will visit Charlotte in mid-July to arrange meetings and parties they want to hold in their assigned hotels and surrounding areas during the convention.