New York Mayor Bill de Blasio lost his bid to bring the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn Thursday as party officials announced they had selected Philadelphia for offering a superior plan for transporting and housing delegates.
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz cited Philadelphia's "commitment to a seamless and safe convention" and its "deep-rooted place in American history" in announcing its selection over finalists Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio.
The rejection of New York City is a blow to de Blasio, whose administration made a strong push for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the convention venue. Historically, New York has hosted national political conventions in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden, close to midtown hotels.
Expressing disappointment but refusing to second-guess his package, de Blasio said, "Sometimes you do everything you know how to do and, you know, you still come up a little short. But I feel great about the effort."
He added, "I really do believe that a convention in Brooklyn would have sent a great message about what this country has historically been and can be and needs to be in the future: an inclusive place, an open place, a place for everyone."
The DNC decision comes amid New York political scandal, recent turmoil between de Blasio and city police unions as well as protests over police conduct in minority communities, but de Blasio and Wasserman Schultz said those did not influence the outcome.
"The only three factors we considered when deciding which was the strongest city were logistics, security and resources," Wasserman Schultz said in a press phone call.
The Wells Fargo Center, home to Philadelphia's basketball and hockey teams, will host the convention, which will take place the week of July 25 and is expected to draw about 20,000 delegates, news media personnel and others.
"Philadelphia's strength in particular was the proximity of their arena and venues to the hotel rooms," she said, saying there are 18,500 hotel rooms within 15 minutes of the arena.
Brooklyn has 25 hotels with more than 2,000 rooms and 22 hotel projects with 2,208 rooms in development, according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce -- meaning most delegates would have had to be shuttled from Manhattan, putting pressure on the city's transportation systems.
DNC officials also had concerns that a security perimeter around Barclays would disrupt many nearby homes, churches and small businesses, said Robert Zimmerman, a national Democratic committeeman from Great Neck. The Wells Fargo Center is situated amid expansive parking lots that serve it and nearby baseball and football stadiums.
Zimmerman said "it's a fair question" whether the city would have had a stronger bid with the Garden. But de Blasio disagreed, saying the Garden isn't surrounded by "a lot of big open spaces" either.
One edge New York City had was financing: The city said it had $7 million in the bank and $20 million in commitments toward its $100 million goal for convention expenses.
Philadelphia narrowed the gap by raising $5 million that it put in escrow while collecting $12 million in pledges toward its $85 million convention cost, said Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and Philadelphia mayor who led that city's bid.Still, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others had said Brooklyn's cultural diversity, hipness and progressive values would be the best setting for the Democrats to nominate their presidential candidate, widely expected to be former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"I still believe that Brooklyn could have given the Democrats a convention like no other city."