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Brooklyn got its close-up on Monday as Democratic officials toured the borough to see if it’s a good fit to host the party’s 2016 convention. The excursion began at the Barclays Center with a morning ceremony featuring a who’s-who of borough Dems. Sen. Charles Schumer (D–New York) said choosing New York, with Brooklyn’s Thunderdome-esque arena as a focal point, is a no-brainer.
“What’s really important is representing the future,” Schumer said. “And no place represents the future like Brooklyn.”
The visiting delegation includes 15 staffers from the Democrats’ advisory committee, which will help select the site of the upcoming presidential-candidate-nominating ritual. Brooklyn officially entered the running back in June, and a definitive analysis of the 13 other contenders showed that the borough is the obvious choice. Democratic Party bigs have now narrowed that list to five — Brooklyn, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Columbus, Ohio — and are touring each.
The Barclays visit began a planned two days in New York with stops at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and in Manhattan also on the agenda. The liberal party’s envoys are supposed to evaluate transportation, lodging, security, and the convention venues in each city under consideration.
Schumer dismissed the idea of hosting the political shindig at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, where Republicans held their convention in 2004.
“I like MSG,” Schumer said. “But there’s no more modern convention center than this.”
Schumer also said that Hillary Clinton, who is a presumptive candidate for the 2016 presidential election, wants to see the massive gathering happen in Kings County.
“She would be so, so, happy if we had it in Brooklyn,” he said.
Journalists at less boosterish publications have questioned whether the borough has enough hotel space to accommodate the many delegates, out-of-town media types, and electeds the convention would bring, but the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said the area around the Barclays Center should have 2,000 rooms in the next few years and thousands more await just across the East River. Schumer agreed, claiming our competition can’t hold a candle to the amount of guest accommodations New York has available.
“To say we don’t have enough hotel space is a canard,” he said. “We have more hotel space close to the convention center than many of the other cities.”
The city’s proposal said that, if New York is picked, some of the delegates would sleep in Manhattan and drive or ride the subway to the arena for the festivities.
The advisory group visiting this week is staying in the Midtown section of Manhattan, offering the Police Department a chance to show off how it can carve out a dedicated lane of traffic to whisk a caravan to Prospect Heights in no time.
“We demonstrated that this morning,” police chief Bill Bratton said. “We anticipated 15 minutes of travel, and we got here in about 14 minutes.”
Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Fort Greene) said that, in addition to the many logistical virtues of a Brooklyn-centered convention, the borough’s hip factor makes it a mad obvious choice.
“We birthed the concept of cool,” she said. “We have swag on lockdown.”