Organizers Share What to Expect Ahead of the 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

The Democratic National Convention is seven months away, but preparations are underway.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thousands of delegates, journalists and likely protestors will descend on Chicago for the DNC from Aug. 19-22 — tying up traffic and hotel rooms while also giving the city and its bars, restaurants and shops an opportunity to show off.

“Chicago is no stranger to hosting large-scale events. This will be our 26th political convention, or 12th DNC,” said host committee Executive Director Christy George, formerly an advisor to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “We are working with partners across the city and state to identify and connect diverse vendors with convention opportunities and crate lasting infrastructure that can be used for future events.”

In a few weeks, George said, the committee will roll out a directory of local establishments that political and media organizations can use as they plan events.

Organizers on Thursday gave media a preview of the convention setup, where a stage will be built on the west side of the United Center’s main level.

“What we cannot tell you is anything further about that stage or the program that will be taking place there,” convention director Alex Hornbrook said.

DNC Chair Minyon Moore, a Chicago native who called herself a “product of the city” and whose political career began as an organizer for Mayor Harold Washington, credited Pritzker and Mayor Brandon Johnson for helping bring the convention to the city.

“We had a mayor and a governor that really wanted this,” Moore said. “We had labor that really wanted this. We had a city that really wanted this.”

Pritzker’s deep pockets and advocacy were key to Chicago being chosen as the host city.

It was also strategic, as organizers signal to appeal to a “blue wall” of Midwestern states — voters in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — as Democrats seek to hold on to the White House.

Delegates will debate and vote on the party platform at McCormick Place, with the nearby Marriott Marquis serving as convention headquarters and the Hyatt Regency serving as the main media headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention is scheduled for July 15-18 in Milwaukee.

“(President Joe Biden) will not surrender his power to do good and to do right on behalf of the American people to the extreme MAGA agenda,” Moore said. “In July and August, you will see a split screen when you watch the Republican convention in July and the Democratic convention in August. You will see your choice, and that choice will be mainstream versus extreme. We will tell the story of how this is one of the most consequential elections we face in our lifetime, and I will assure you that is no hyperbole.”

DNC organizers also credit Chicago’s size and cache of hotels, restaurants and transportation networks with being able to handle the massive undertaking.

“One of the reasons that President Biden and (Democratic National Committee) Chair (Jaime) Harrison chose Chicago is because we have the opportunities and the resources of one of the biggest, most vibrant and diverse cities in our country, while also being able to execute our convention in a very compact and easily navigable footprint,” Hornbrook said.

Hornbrook cautioned that planning is still underway, including security measures that will be taken in coordination with the Secret Service.

“We of course expect, as in any national political convention or any large political gathering, there will be plenty of people who come to exercise their First Amendment right, to express their strongly held views. And the Democratic Party welcomes that,” Hornbrook said. “We are very confident in our ability to execute a very safe, successful and enjoyable convention.”

Not mentioned during the preview were challenges like crime and unsheltered migrants, which could complicate Chicago’s time in the national spotlight.

A small group of protestors were outside the United Center Thursday morning, despite the frigid 20-degree weather.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors