DNC kickoff festival moves from speedway to uptown
Updated: Updated 06/26/2012 05:18 PM
By: David Kernodle and Sarah Pisciuneri
Watch the video as News 14 Carolina reporters David Kernodle and Sarah Pisciuneri talk about the impact of the decision on Charlotte and what it means for Concord and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
CHARLOTTE – The site of CarolinaFest on Sept. 3 was switched from Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord to uptown Charlotte, according to officials with the Democratic National Convention.
The Labor Day festival, which will kick off the convention, will now take place along the Tryon Street corridor. Organizers said the move will help the DNC reach its goal of making the convention more open and accessible.
"One of the things we certainly wanted to include was the opportunity to include the delegates to participate in our CarolinaFest event," Dan Murrey, the executive director of Charlotte in 2012, said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. "Part of the delegate process is the caucus meetings and ultimately we found the caucus meetings could be better held in the convention center and so that created some logistical challenges. Certainly, transportation, moving people up to the speedway and out of uptown is an issue."
Murrey downplayed any security and financial concerns that may have played into their decision. He says the move makes the convention more open to the public.
CMS spokesman Scott Cooper said a lot of work went into preparing for the event, and while they are disappointed with the decision, the speedway still might play a part in entertaining delegates staying in Concord.
"Certainly, they have their reasons for making the decision that they've made. But as with any major tourism event that comes to Charlotte, we know that we'll continue to play a part – now the role will just change somewhat," he said.
Cooper said clauses in the contract allow compensation for resources put forth so far, though he couldn't say how much.
Concord police joined in those preparations as well to help secure the event.
"It was going to be similar to a race day and probably not quite as many people as a race," said Peter Franzese, Public Information Officer for the City of Concord.
He said security plans were just weeks from being finalized. Though moving the event to Uptown Charlotte will require less of their 159 officers.
"We'll be scaled back obviously, but there's still going to be work to do there's still going to be people here in Concord and we'll be ready for them," said Franzese.
The convention begins Sept. 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena and concludes Sept. 6 with President Obama's acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium.
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