Out-of-Town Reporters Bash Philadelphia as DNC Host
The first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention is over, and speeches from Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama went over pretty well. Those who care about these kinds of things said it was a well-orchestrated convention. But it’s what happened after politicians, delegates, and journalists left the Wells Fargo Center that’s making Philadelphia look bad.
Not only are out-of-town political reporters bashing Philadelphia’s handling of the DNC — mainly over traffic issues — they’re saying that Columbus would have been a better choice to host it. Columbus! Combination college towns/state capitals are generally nice places to visit and live, but Philadelphia can’t be a worse place to host a big event than Columbus, can it?
12:30 am: Thousands still in gridlock trying to leave Wells Fargo Ctr. One-hour-plus wait for Uber. Shuttles MIA. Worst. Convention. Ever.
— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) July 26, 2016
Unfortunately, the answer is: Probably? Leaving the convention last night, reporters complained about sitting in traffic for more than an hour. The line for Uber pickups seemed endless. The weather was still kind of crappy. It was dark. “This is the worst [convention] I’ve ever seen,” New York Times op-ed columnist Andrew Rosenthal told Billy Penn. Maybe this is why, as my colleague Jared Brey pointed out yesterday, no one is shouting out Philly at the DNC.
Complete clusterfuck getting out of Wells Fargo Arena. 45 minutes and still in the lot. #DemsInPhilly pic.twitter.com/qC9HtNDyuP
— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) July 26, 2016
As anyone who lives in Philadelphia knows, you should almost always take the Broad Street Line to the sports complex if you can. If you drive, you’d better have a quick escape plan for when you leave the stadium. (My uncle and I basically run from our seats to his car when a Phillies game ends, and he wears a knee brace.) But with all the security for the convention, a mad dash for the car isn’t feasible.
I can’t even really fault media members for not taking SEPTA to the convention. SEPTA said to expect crowded subway trains all week, and access to AT&T Station was briefly shut down due to protesters. SEPTA said police asked them to briefly shut down AT&T Station. (I walked down to the sports complex, and took a quick, uneventful Broad Street Line subway ride back.)
It really does not seem like Philadelphia was prepared to hold a political convention. Columbus would have aced it.
— Matt Bai (@mattbai) July 26, 2016
So why would Columbus have been a better choice, according to many reporters? The Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is in downtown Columbus. It would be a short walk from the primary media hotels to the convention. This was the situation for the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The city won praise for its handling of the logistics of the convention.
No city that has its venue miles from the nearest accommodations is prepared for a convention. https://t.co/P8ArMN0NY1
— Thomas Mills (@tmillsNC) July 26, 2016
Comparing Philly and Cleveland right now in terms of convention logistics is like comparing Cavs and 76ers. No comparison.
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) July 25, 2016
It’s hard, of course, to feel bad for media members who whine about sitting in traffic after covering a highly produced event. (Sportswriters complain about travel pretty much nonstop, and people do not like it.) Staffers from Philadelphia magazine made it to and from the WFC without any problems! But the people tweeting mean things about Philadelphia actually have a point this time: It would be nicer if people in Center City could walk to an arena.
But who wants an arena downtown? Center City is an incredible place to live, work and visit. It puts Cleveland’s downtown to shame (the Ontario Street Cafe rules, though). Yeah, it makes Philadelphia less than an ideal spot for a convention. It stinks no Philly pro sports venues are easy to walk to. But Philadelphia shouldn’t design its city for the benefit of people who will be here four days. Center City doesn’t need an arena to be vibrant.
And some out-of-town media members didn’t like the complaints. Karen Travers, a Washington-based correspondent for ABC News, said Philly was doing just fine.
i'm feeling very protective of my hometown & annoyed at all the whining. America really cares about media logistics
— Karen Travers (@karentravers) July 26, 2016
Of course, Travers is From Here: She’s a native of Blue Bell. But it’s heartwarming to see she’s still sticking up for us. For you, Karen, the world.