U. Minnesota Campus Businesses Unconcerned About RNC

This story was written by Alex Ebert, Minnesota Daily


They're coming.

More than 4,500 delegates and alternates are coming to the Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention, and they're carrying $148 million with them, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Host Committee Web site.

But campus businesses aren't worried about the temporary influx.

Of the 2,000 jobs the host committee Web site predicts will be created, few businesses on campus are looking to hire any temporary workers.

Still, the host committee has rented out every space in the Radisson Hotel on Washington Avenue for the duration of the convention, bedrooms and banquet halls included, said Larry Jones, Radisson director of sales and marketing.

Jones said the Radisson, which fills up several times a year, won't be hiring many more people, just keeping its bar open later.

The visiting delegations are not a concern for several other Washington Avenue businesses, either.

Big 10 Restaurant and Bar isn't going to hire anyone else, despite being right across the street from the Radisson, manager Ray Graves said.

"We've got enough extra bodies around that we can just pick up the slack," he said. "I don't think it will be a problem at all."

This seems to be the prevailing attitude along Washington Avenue, considering that Village Wok , Espresso Royal e, Applebee's and Starbucks haven't considered hiring more staff, restaurant employees said.

The delegates are considered leisure travelers, said Karolyn Kirchgesler , president of the Saint Paul Convention and Visitors Authority . They will be eating, sleeping and celebrating their way through the Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention Sept. 1 to 4.

"Convention groups are coming to attend a specific event," Kirchgesler said. "When they're attending that event, it's likely that they will go to attractions, restaurants and visit other things."

This means a boost for Twin Cities businesses within walking distance of the hotels hosting delegations.

"We could sell out five times over," Jones said. "(The RNC committees) basically pretty much have a lockdown on all of the venue space within the Twin Cities area."

These rental spaces aren't limited to hotel banquet halls, Kirchgesler said. Delegations will rent spaces in mansions, convention centers and restaurants, as well.

Loring Pasta Bar will host, at least, 200 Missouri delegates on Sept. 1 for a dinner, Greta Seiffert , the restaurant's event coordinator, said.

The delegation is buying out the space for the afternoon - something Seiffert said rarely happens, because of the cost. The Republican group will spend at least $30,000 to be waited on by the full restaurant staff.

But the "pretty liberal" staff at the restaurant isn't "ecstatic" about hosting a party for Republicans, Seiffert added.

The RNC committees are also looking into hosting two other buyouts of the restaurant space, along with possible buyouts of the Varsity Theater , which Loring caters to.

Near the sold-out Radisson, McNamara Alumni Center isn't seeing as much attention from RNC planners, McNamara spokeswoman Amy Leyden said.

"At one point, we thought we would have had a weeklong of parties," she said. "That certainly is not the case."

McNamara, which hosts numerous weddings and University-related banquets, is only hosting one RNC-related party during the convention, due to its limited parking and its location further away from both downtowns and delegation hotels, Leyden said.

McNamara has a great deal of competition for the delegations' dime - owntown convention centers, new restaurants and even private homes on Lake Minnetonka will be hosting parties.

The most popular convention spaces are within walking distance of hotels - sending party-goers strolling through campus' commercial communities, Leyden said.

Still, Graves doesn't see this as a reason to hire more people at his restaurant.

"(Delegates) got three different bars to choose from," he said, and they'll likely go elsewhere "if they're looking to go out and have a crazy time."
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