A study in excess

Los Angeles rolled out red carpet for winning bid in 2000

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Despite the lengths Boston officials went to convince Democrats that their city was the place for the 2004 convention, Los Angeles officials were more extravagant in making their successful pitch in 1998 to host the 2000 Democratic convention. Los Angeles organizers had 80 people working on its bid – mostly run by the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau – at a price tag of nearly $800,000, according to Los Angeles Magazine.

By way of comparison, The Rocky Mountain News reported that Denver business leaders coughed up $100,000 for 60 Democrats visit to their city that same year.

Among the events and goodies the 1998 Democratic site selection committee was treated to in the City of Angels, according to Los Angeles Magazine, were:

  • A red carpet welcome for the committee in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center where then-Mayor Richard Riordan was waiting. Inside, as trumpeters played on, a stuntwoman dressed in angel attire was lowered on a cable from the ceiling, where she landed en Pointe and danced over to the site selection committee chairman Joe Andrew to hand him a CD-ROM of the city’s bid.
  • An evening at the Conga Room where Democrats were met by gowned waitresses, handed hand-rolled cigars and greeted by “NYPD Blue” actor Jimmy Smits.

Helicopter flights over the city that brought committee members to a Universal Studios soundstage decorated as a 1930s nightclub.

  • An exclusive performance by the cast of Stomp.
  • A cocktail reception at the Getty Museum, while being serenaded by flute as the sun set over the Santa Monica mountains.
  • Dinner at Riordan’s home with food cooked by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck including asparagus salad with yellow and pink baby beets, vegetable ravioli, roasted chicken with mushrooms and crepe purses filled with chocolate and vanilla bean ice cream. Hollywood mogul David Geffen was in attendance.

Committee members took home personalized Los Angeles Kings’ jerseys, Getty Museum books, Universal Studios T-shirts, hand-tooled/leather bound folders with a photo of John F. Kennedy after winning the presidential nomination in Los Angeles in 1960, accompanied by an excerpt of his speech on handmade paper, and videotapes of their trip which were later delivered to the committee members in their home cities.

Kelly Martin, who served as then-Mayor Richard Riordan’s chief of staff at the time, said of Los Angeles’ site selection efforts in 1998, “There was a great ambition of wooing and [having] parties. That’s what seems to go on, for better or for worse, that’s what goes on.”

Denver, which also sought the 2000 Democratic convention, treated site selection committee members to fireworks at the Red Rocks outdoor amphitheater, breakfast at the Denver Public Library’s scenic balcony overlooking the state Capitol dome, a hike in Boulder’s Chautauqua Park, salsa dancing at the Sevilla restaurant, and meals boasting deep-fried rocky mountain oysters and buffalo steaks. Gifts given to the committee members included backpacks filled with fleece jackets, Beanie Babies, Pepsi Center hard hats (the Center was under construction at the time), souvenir necklaces and cufflinks, Vail ski parkas and stuffed buffaloes. Earlier that year, Denver officials went to Washington to host a reception during a DNC meeting, at the same hotel and time as the Boston reception. At that event, Denver organizers offered hundreds of Democrats autographed footballs from the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos, Mexican food and straw cowboy hats.

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