Convention planning already underway

5:32 PM, Sep 28, 2006   |    comments
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Some say the Republican National Convention could have more impact in the Twin Cities than the Superbowl or the World Series. No wonder everyone from hotel operators to a hospital are already beginning to plan for this huge event. With up to 45,000 guests coming to town in just two year, it's not too early to start planning. Karyn Gruenberg of Meet Minneapolis said her group began planning months ago, "Actually we've been planning since we started doing the bid. We had to be sure that we could do this event and the teams have been working for several months and yes, the planning is now moving into full gear." A top priority is transportation, which can make or break a convention. "We want to make sure traffic isn't cluttered. We want to make sure the buses can move through and we want to make sure the local people can go back and forth, to and from work, without any disruptions," said Gruenberg. Metro Transit figures it will need an additional 250 to 300 buses to shuttle everyone from the Xcel Energy Center to their hotels, most of which will be in Minneapolis and Bloomington. About 20,000 hotel rooms will be needed for the convention. In fact, hotels have been asked to reserve at least 80 percent of their rooms for convention participants. Greg Pike isn't complaining. He manages the Holiday Inn Rivercentre which is located right next to the main convention site. "People come here and once they come here, they really seem to like the area, the people, the things there are to do here. And generally they come back," said Pike. Unlike the hotels, doctors at nearby United Hospital hope they won't get too many visitors,but they'll be ready, just in case said Dr. Steve Tredal, "We will certainly have extra precaution and talk about perhaps some unique needs with a convention like this." Security is another major concern. In New York, two years ago, manhole covers were fused together and metal garbage cans were replaced by plastic bags. And don't forget the best show outside the Xcel, protestors. Tens of thousands are expected and police and convention organizers will set up designated areas within sight of the Xcel. Organizers hope to get a federal grant to help pay for the extra security costs so they can at least try to keep that Minnesota Nice attitude. Convention organizers from the republican party will actually move to the Twin Cities following the elections this November. The number of organizers in the area will continue to increase right up to September 1, 2008. By Joe Fryer, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2006 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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