The Democratic Party announced Tuesday that Chicago will be the site of its 2024 national nominating convention, which could bring 50,000 visitors and a $200 million economic impact to the Windy City over just a few days.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Doug Nickels, Secretary of the Democratic Party of Evanston.

Nickles called the choice, over New York City, Atlanta and Houston “recognition that the Midwest does play a role in the upcoming election.”

And, in fact, the Democratic National Committee cited the region as part of the “blue wall” of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota that helped Joe Biden win the presidency in 2020.

While Chicago has more than 43,000 hotel rooms in the Central Business District (according to the tourism site “Choose Chicago”), the chance of more than that showing up, or the need to house large groups in a single building, could mean that inner suburbs such as Evanston, with good transit access, should see some spillover economic impact.

Paul Zalmezak, Evanston’s economic development manager, told Evanston Now that “There is no question that Evanston hotel rooms will be at a premium that week” of the convention.

And Gina Speckman, executive director of Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, which markets Evanston and the northern suburbs, said, “Any large city-wide event in Chicago brings people to our area,” including the yearly Lollapalooza concert festival and this summer’s NASCAR race. The Democratic convention, she said will do the same.

The political gathering, she noted, will also bring social events and meetings to our area that will not be able to use downtown hotels.

On a personal note, when I was a reporter in Ohio, I covered the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland. We had to stay 40 minutes away in the suburbs, and drive into town. Granted, Cleveland is a lot smaller than Chicago, but outlying housing is always a possibility for huge events. And yes, we paid for rooms, and purchased food. Economic impact.

The 2024 Republican convention will be in Milwaukee, a much more Cleveland-sized community, where hotels outside of downtown, and in other communities, will be a necessity.

The 2024 GOP event runs from July 15-18. The Dems’ turn comes on Aug. 19-22, primarily at the United Center, with a portion at McCormick Place.

Chicago has hosted 12 Democratic conventions, including the riot-marred 1968 fiasco.

The most recent and far more sedate affair was the renomination of Bill Clinton in 1996.

Nickles said it’s uncertain now how many Evanston Democrats will be convention delegates, although U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston resident, will be one due to her position in Congress.

And while Joe Biden is expected to run for re-election in 2024, if for some reason he decides not to, might Chicago then turn into the home of a “favorite son” candidate, Gov. J.B. Pritzker?

Long shot? Sure.

Impossible? You never know.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  1. This is another reason why Evanston should allow Halim to use the former King home on Oak ave. as he has lawfully petitioned.

  2. If Biden runs for President we are in BAD shape. Has to be someone else. I wouldn’t vote for him right now.

    Give me JB or …. anyone really. No Kamala or Biden. Anyone but Sleepy Joe.

    Dems need to get ready because things are not good right now and it’s under their watch. It’s only going to get worse too so they need to wake up a little bit because the GOP has two big guns in Trump & DeSantis. They would wipe the floor with Biden right now. JB would beat them both if he runs.

    We need someone who’s actually here on this planet with us and not out to lunch.

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