CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the second major change to the Democratic National Convention schedule, organizers announced Monday night they are moving the much-touted Labor Day festival from Charlotte Motor Speedway to uptown Charlotte.
In January, officials announced they were shortening the convention to three days, and would forgo the traditional Monday opening for a festival instead at the Speedway. At the time, the party chairwoman said they wanted to “make this convention different than any other in history.”
But Monday night, host committee officials said dropping the Speedway event will provide attendees with a much stronger connection to the convention.
Hosting the CarolinaFest event along the Tryon Street corridor instead of 20 miles outside of uptown makes for easier logistics, said host committee spokeswoman Suzi Emmerling.
Delegates and members of the public who want to attend caucus meetings happening uptown can do so without missing the festival, Emmerling said.
“It really is about creating an experience that people feel like they have a taste of the convention,” said Dan Murrey, DNC host committee executive director. “And just given the accessibility to uptown versus the speedway, the connection to the convention, and the caucus meetings, we took a step back, consulted very thoroughly with our partners in the city, and made the decision this is going to be … more in line with our original goals of the event.
“… We want to have an event where people feel like, ‘I didn’t have a credential for the convention, but I got to go to CarolinaFest. … I got to participate in an activity that was connected to the convention.’ This made that more tangible.”
Emmerling wouldn’t disclose the amount to move the event, but said contractual obligations with the Speedway will still be honored.
Officials said in January that shortening the convention wouldn’t reduce the cost.
“We want this convention to be about more than just the pageantry and speeches you see on TV,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at the time.
But the Labor Day event had already attracted little interest among correspondents planning to cover the DNC. In a media gathering June 5, in which advance teams were bused out to Concord for a tour of the track and its media center, only representatives from local stations said they were planning to set up there, possibly as a site for anchoring their evening newscasts.
PBS, the first broadcast network to announce its coverage plans last week, said it planned to anchor its Labor Day broadcast on “PBS Newshour” with Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill from Time Warner Cable Arena, but might cover the festivities from Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of the day’s coverage, depending on whether it was newsworthy.
During the convention, PBS plans to devote prime-time to the story, but on Labor Day, it plans to revert to normally scheduled programming that night.
Networks, including cable outlets that are expected to cover the convention far more extensively than their network counterparts, had already been struggling with the mechanics of moving up from Tampa’s Republican National convention the week before, then facing a set-up in three venues in Charlotte: the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the arena, and finally Bank of America Stadium for what is expected to be Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night.