Left ACLR Right ACLR

Sign up for Our Newsletter

* indicates required
5 years ago

Why Birmingham has absolutely zero chance of hosting the 2016 DNC

President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President at the 2012 Democratic National Convention Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.
President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President at the 2012 Democratic National Convention Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.

Twitter was abuzz over the weekend with news that Birmingham, Alabama was one of the six cities that submitted a bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, joining Cleveland, Columbus, New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix. The Democratic National Committee back in April invited 15 cities to make a proposal, and these six responded by the deadline.

A Technical Advisory Committee will now evaluate all of the cities. Members of the committee will visit each prospective site and study their ability to handle the logistical challenges that come with hosting an event of this magnitude.

“Hosting a party convention is a true honor and we’re thrilled with all the fantastic options that we have going into the next cycle,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said in a press release. “We look forward to evaluating these bids and selecting a city to host this special gathering of Democrats.”

So what are Birmingham’s chances of actually landing the DNC in 2016?

My initial reaction was “not even a snowball’s chance in…”

But let’s at least start by looking at the facts.

Below is a quick history of recent Democratic National Conventions, including the host venue’s capacity. Although it’s hard to keep a straight face while comparing the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) Arena to, say, the Staples Center in L.A., from a strictly capacity standpoint, the BJCC seems to stack up alright.

DNC Venues

But although the BJCC’s capacity is probably large enough to host an event of this size, the truth is, it is a dinosaur. It is not anywhere near the same class of facility that the other potential host cities have to offer. That by itself likely eliminates Birmingham from having any legitimate chance at landing the DNC in 2016.

Another variable the Technical Advisory Committee will undoubtedly be looking at is the number of hotel rooms that each city has to offer. The DNC probably needs at least 15,000.


As you can see from the graphic above, cvent.com estimates that Birmingham has almost 20,000 rooms in the greater metro area. However, the number in the actual city, which is what the DNC will be looking at, is more like 12,000. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a reasonable portion of the city’s existing rooms (2,000-3,000) would be held for current customers of these hotels. They are not going to tell their regular customers not to come during a specific period.

Birmingham’s lack of hotel hotel accommodations by itself likely eliminates it from contention.

Third, it’s going to take a very sophisticated and costly transportation system to transport the crowds around during the DNC. Birmingham’s public transportation system recently ranked 94th among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, according to The Brookings Institute.

Birmingham’s lack of transportation infrastructure by itself, again, likely eliminates the city from contention.

There are also political realities working against Birmingham’s bid to land the convention.

For all practical purposes, the Democratic Party doesn’t even exist in Alabama anymore. If the national Party is at all concerned with making sure a competent, well-organized state party is handling things on the ground in the run-up to the convention, they shouldn’t even give Alabama a second thought. Especially considering that fact that they will need an estimated 7,000 volunteers to work the event.

Additionally, national Party’s have in recent years started to view their conventions as an opportunity to influence voters in key swing states, which Alabama most certainly is not. (Editor’s note: Barack Obama only won 38.36% of the vote in Alabama in 2012.)

Zac McCrary of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a Montgomery-based Democratic polling firm whose clients include President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and many other national Democratic leaders, explained to Yellowhammer that this trend is likely to continue in 2016.

“It’s great that Birmingham is being mentioned as a contender for a national party convention and this can only benefit Birmingham by raising its profile as a national destination,” said McCrary. “While I’ll be rooting for Birmingham’s selection, I believe both parties are coming to view conventions as not just national stages for their nominees, but as opportunities to generate earned media, volunteers, and to develop a field program in a critical swing state. The 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver is credited with helping the Obama campaign carry Colorado — and both parties selected swing states in 2012. I suspect that trend is likely to continue, making Birmingham an underdog to host a convention in 2016.”

With that in mind, the two Ohio cities vying for the convention may have a leg up on the competition. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio.

So here’s the deal: Birmingham has absolutely zero chance of hosting the 2016 DNC. But that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t continue trying to land big events like this.

“I applaud the City of Birmingham and the Convention Bureau officials for putting our city into the mix for hosting the 2016 DNC,” said Gene Hallman, CEO of the Birmingham-based Bruno Event Team, one of the nation’s largest event management companies. “Regardless of the outcome, the City will benefit from the positive exposure. We need to continue to promote Birmingham’s image as a great event host.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

2 hours ago

Auburn Police officer shot in the line of duty

An Auburn Police Department officer was shot in the line of duty Friday evening.

Sources reportedly confirmed the shooting to WVTM. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The shooting occurred at the Dollar General near Niffer’s Place off of Opelika Road.

WSFA was on the scene live in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which resulted in a massive police presence. The suspect is believed to still be at-large, with a “manhunt” underway.


This comes after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder were shot and killed in the line of duty in recent weeks.

This is breaking news and may be updated.

Update 8:00 p.m.:

WSFA posted a new live stream.

Update 8:15 p.m.:

Police administrators told reporters the incident occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. as the officer pulled the suspect’s vehicle over responding to an armed robbery call. The officer was talking and alert when he left the scene. More on his condition was not released by law enforcement on the scene. The officer was shot “multiple” times. His name has also not been released.

The suspect is Christopher James Wallace. He is 38 years old. A female was in the vehicle with Wallace at the time of the shooting. Her name is not being released at this time.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.


Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

3 hours ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent “[erroneous]” Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”


It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.


Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.


“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn