PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Democratic National Convention Committee marked a milestone, today, moving all of its operations to the Wells Fargo Center for final preparations.
“We’re marking how far we’ve come as we enter this final phase of convention preparation,” said Convention DEO Leah Daughtry. “Moving our whole team into this building full time means that it is really almost show time.”
The Center is getting a massive make-over for its moment in the political spotlight.
Since the Committee got access to the building, May 28th, it’s removed seats, stripped luxury suites down to the studs so networks that have rented them for the Convention can redesign them, removed sports memorabilia and placed it in temporary storage, and begun erecting large media tents in the parking lot.
In the next 33 days, Daughtry says, 40 miles of wire will be installed, walls will be built in the concourse for cloak and caucus rooms, temporary offices will be created backstage, along with a secure green room and rehearsal rooms.
“Little-known fact, we build a mock podium backstage so that’s where all the speakers practice,” says Daughtry. “It looks and feels just like the real podium. It’s got the teleprompters.”
On the floor of the arena, a stage must be built, screens put up, then seating and a voting system for each state delegation.
“The bulk of our budget goes into the construction and the production of what happens here,” she says. “It is the centerpiece of the week. We have some requirements that are given to us through the party rules about what we must provide and then we want it to be visually engaging for those who are watching around the world.”
The woman-owned firm of Hargrove, of Washington, D.C., is in charge of production and a local minority-owned firm, Perryman Building, is in charge of construction and has subcontracted other Philadelphia firms.
“One of the clear messages we received is they wanted to have local business involvement and that has been our goal and our objective that every opportunity that we’ve had, we’ve taken that as our first marching orders,” said president Angelo Perryman.
Perryman will also be doing the restoration of the Center to its normal configuration, in time for Barbara Streisand on August 20th.
The Wells Fargo Center will be using the opportunity to upgrade the suites.
Daughtry declined to discuss programming for the Convention, though presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton has hinted she’d like to see Lin-Manuel Miranda perform some of his hit Broadway show, “Hamilton.”
Daughtry says she’s not worried about the Host Committee’s ability to fun the enterprise, saying she’s been assured they’re within $10 Million dollars of pledged fundraising goals.
She also was not worried about protests, even one entitled “Shut Down the DNC Rally,” or threats by Sanders delegates to disrupt the proceedings in various, creative ways.
Seven of the 17 protest permits applied for through the city are from groups affiliated with Sanders, including four of the seven that have been approved.
“When they get here, we hope we will have addressed many of their concerns through the platform, that Sen. Sanders will also have addressed many of their concerns,” says Daughtry. “If they’re delegates they have earned the right to be here. They will be on the floor but all of us in the building will abide by the regulations set by the Secret Service.”