Democratic Party officials Wednesday showed off $7 million in renovations done to Time Warner Cable Arena here, the site of next month’s Democratic National Convention.
Construction crews have turned the practice court for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats into a media center and just about finished converting the arena’s suites into broadcast centers for TV news stations. Backstage, crews were finishing up work on a soundproof room where convention speakers can rehearse their speeches, before stepping in front of the 15,000 people in the convention hall.
The stage and podium will not be unveiled until next week.
“The great thing about the Time Warner Cable facility is it is a relatively new facility and it has a layout that is convenient to our needs for the convention,” said Theo LeCompte, the convention’s chief operating officer. “We were able to completely transform this into a state-of-the-art convention hall with less construction than we had to do four years ago in Denver.”
While the convention’s first two days will be at the arena, the final day – when President Barack Obama formally accepts his re-nomination – will be at the 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
The Democratic National Committee plans to spend about $5 million renovating that stadium for that night, which will be open to the public.
The convention will open with “CarolinaFest,” an Uptown Charlotte street festival that also will be open to the public.
“This will be the first convention ever that will begin and end with events that are open to the public,” convention chief executive Steve Kerrigan said. “CarolinaFest, which will be on Labor Day, ... will allow tens of thousands of families from the region and around the country to come here to Charlotte to participate in family-friendly events.”
Also on Wednesday, officials announced another list of speakers for the convention, including U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who is running for the U.S. Senate; Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Onassis; and Lilly Ledbetter, a former Goodyear Tire employee who gained national attention after suing the company because she made less than her male counterparts. Earlier this year, Congress did not pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that Ledbetter lobbied for.
Previously announced speakers include: former President Bill Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama White House chief of staff; U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party’s 2004 nominee; and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will give the convention’s keynote address, the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention, according to officials.