A Tale of Two Naming Rights for DNC Host Sites: Charlotte and BofA
As expected, numerous national news outlets have been reporting this afternoon on this morning’s announcement that the final day of the Democratic National Convention will take place at Bank of America Stadium, where President Barack Obama will accept his party’s nomination. Also packaged with this morning’s announcement from the DNCC was that the convention will be shortened from four days to three (Tuesday, September 4-Thursday, September 6), so now the Monday of that week, which is Labor Day, will feature a community celebration and organizing event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tuesday and Wednesday’s convention events will still be held at Time Warner Cable Arena, as originally planned.
The most important day of the convention, clearly, is the day President Obama is scheduled to speak. While most of the headlines being generated on news websites and blogs today pertaining to the DNC changes are leading with some form of the wording “convention shortened to three days,” watch how the narrative shifts in tomorrow’s new stories. The focus, undoubtedly, of some of the coverage will be on the fact that President Obama is planning to deliver his speech at a stadium named after a big bank.
DNC officials fielded several questions about that at the press conference this morning, and they sought to assure reporters that Bank of America Stadium was chosen because of its location in uptown Charlotte, close proximity to Time Warner Cable Arena, and, most importantly, the fact that it seats 74,000 people. The name on the stadium or names of any of the other venues they’re using was not a factor in their decisions, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. In 2008, then-presidential candidate Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at Invesco Field, the NFL stadium in Denver, they reminded.
Still, reporters and bloggers will spend tomorrow and coming weeks and months opining on the irony of and potential criticism for President Obama to have his candidacy linked to the Charlotte-based, nation’s largest bank he criticized last year.
Meanwhile, the fact that Charlotte Motor Speedway is named “Charlotte” Motor Speedway, though it is technically in Concord, will bode well for Charlotte and the DNC. In a news story I watched this afternoon on MSNBC, it reported on the changes to the convention, leading off by stating that the event will kick off at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It also talked about the president closing out at BofA stadium, but at no time did they mention the city of Charlotte as the site of the convention. Perhaps it’s understood that mentioning Charlotte Motor Speedway implies the convention is in Charlotte. It wouldn’t have that effect if the speedway was still named after Lowe’s, which owned the naming rights for a decade until the end of 2009 (the speedway has been trying to sell the naming rights to a new corporate sponsor for the last two years).
If you want to read one of the many national news stories that came out today concerning the DNC's announced changes, I recommend this one on Washington Wire, a Wall Street Journal blog. Writer Laura Meckler did the most thorough reporting job of the pieces I’ve read today.