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Republicans Pick Philly In 2000

Republicans will hold their 2000 national convention in the First Union Center in South Philadelphia. Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson made the announcement Thursday morning.

Nicholson said the "woman or man who will lead us into the next millennium will be nominated in this building."

The decision came after months of debate over whether to hold the main convention events in the state-of-the-art Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philly, or the equally modern First Union Center, the home of the city's professional basketball and hockey teams.

Nicholson said the goal now "is how best to use both the First Union Center and the Pennsylvania Convention Center to make the convention a success" for the GOP nominee and the Philadelphia region.

In making its decision, the GOP took plenty of time to complete a detailed technical analysis of each building. The delay in selecting a site had angered some groups whose own meeting plans were put in limbo.

The convention, scheduled for the week of July 29 to Aug. 4, 2000, will draw about 40,000 people, including 15,000 members of the media, to the City of Brotherly Love as the party nominates its next presidential candidate.

The $522 million convention center, which opened in 1993, is within walking distance of major downtown hotels and attractions. But the $210 million First Union Center, which opened in 1996 and is about 3 1/2 miles from downtown, has state-of-the-art television production equipment, a superior sound system and is close to the city's airport and major highways.

The decision cheered several groups already booked into the convention center for the weeks leading up to the Republican convention. Had the Republicans picked the convention center, those groups - among them the nation's largest municipal workers union and the second-largest teachers union would likely have been displaced.

The delay in selecting a site had angered some groups whose own meeting plans were put in limbo.

One exhibitor, saying he could wait for the Republicans no longer, pulled out of the convention center a few weeks ago and moved his event to Washington, D.C. Another group chose to remain here but accepted a later date.

But conventions planned by the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees can now go on as scheduled. About 5,000 teachers are expected in Philadelphia the week of July 2, 2000, while 7,000 municipal union members are supposed to be here in late June.

Philadelphia has hosted eight presidential nominating conventions, including the Republicans' first national convention in 1856. This will be Philadelphia's first since 1948 when it hosted the Democrats and the Republicans.

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