CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Democratic National Committee chairman says Time Warner Cable Arena will be the center stage when Democrats arrive in the city for their national convention in 2012.
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine on Wednesday joined Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for a walk through of the empty arena, including the locker room of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.
Kaine says Charlotte is a good choice for the convention. The $265 million facility can hold up to 20,000 people. The convention is expected to attract 35,000, including delegates, media and political operatives.
Kaine said the flexibility of the arena is a key feature. The stage can be moved around the arena floor without losing seating.
"I can see it filled with people and I can see it filled with folks who are very excited," Kaine said. "It's going to work very well. Both the newness of the space and the flexibility of the space means that we've got a lot of real good options."
Kaine said members of the DNC will arrive in late spring or early summer. They'll set up shop and spend the next 18 months preparing for the convention, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 3, 2012.
One of the challenges city leaders will have to sort out is making sure everyone who comes for the convention can get around safely.
City leaders are coming up with some creative plans involving city buses and light rail for transportation.
City Manager Curt Walton said he thinks one of the reasons Charlotte was awarded the convention is the layout of uptown.
"That's one of the selling points of Charlotte -- the compact uptown. The walkability from the arena to the hotels to the convention center is very good," Walton said. "Even if the light rail has to stop a block or two short of its northern end, it will still be very convenient to both the convention center and to the arena."
As for security, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe says there will be monumental security measures in place for the convention.
"I mean, it's a very massive undertaking. I've been involved in similar type events -- presidential inaugurations -- but it's going to take a lot of people coming together from local, state and federal, even officers from around the country who may come in or be asked to come in to help support this event," Monroe said.
Walton said Tuesday the city expects a $50 million federal grant to cover police expenses. The U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI will all be involved in security.