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How Hosting NHL All-Star Game Could Help Columbus Get 2016 DNC

Columbus is in the national spotlight this weekend as host of the NHL All-Star Game. The event is expected to bring more than 140,000 people to the downtown area. 

Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow explains how the event could help Columbus land the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

That’s the hiss of fans working to cool the ramped up data center at Nationwide Arena. There are also new antennas placed all around the venue to deal with the major wireless traffic that comes with big events such as the NHL All- Star Game. 

The new data infrastructure means faster access to social media. For example, AT&T, which invested in the update, says fans used 84 gigs of data at two recent Blue Jackets games. That’s about 240,000 Facebook posts and tweets—with pictures. 

Dana Tardelli is with Mobilitie—the group that designed the new infrastructure. He says the overhauled network is vital for modernized venues. 

“More people will be taking their pictures and doing selfies because they have to prove to the world that they’re here and they take video and that consumes more. It’s about the fan and the fan experience and what they’re expecting and that’s changing,” said Tardelli.

The revamped wireless network is just one example of how the NHL All-Star game is helping the city prepare for another event Columbus is vying to host: the 2016 Democratic National Convention. 

Ohio’s capital is one of three finalists still in the running. Brian Ross with Experience Columbus says the all-star game gives the city a chance to show off. 

“People are proud of Columbus and the more that we’re able to get into that national spotlight and show people what Columbus has to offer the better off we are,” Ross said. 

Ross says the timing couldn’t be better for the city. Columbus was tapped to host the all-star game in 2013 but that was canceled due to the NHL lockout. Now the city gets to throw the big event perhaps days before national Democratic committee members are expected to announce their choice. 

“It definitely helps that we’re able to be on national TV—talked about on national TV—be talked about in national publications regarding the NHL when we are in the midst of a decision timeframe for the DNC,” said Ross. 

Other Columbus venues that could be utilized while hosting the DNC are the Greater Columbus Convention Center and Ohio Stadium—home of Buckeye football. 

In 2008 then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president in front of 84,000 people in Denver. Four years later, he addressed 35,000 people in Charlotte. 

While Nationwide Arena has a capacity of about 20,000—Ohio Stadium can seat more than 100,000 people. 

Aside from the venues—Representative Michael Stinziano, a Columbus-area Democrat—says the city also boasts many hotels, good food and walkability. 

“Not that other cities don’t provide that opportunity but it’s second-to-none in terms of having the same things the larger cities—or perceived larger cities have—but in a very Midwestern atmosphere and experience,” explained Stinziano. 

Ross says Columbus is having a moment with hosting the NHL All-Star game and the possibility of getting the DNC. 

“These are economic impact events that not only bring dollars into our community over those event dates but allows us to gain more awareness and an image to our community that resonates for years to come,” said Ross. 

The other two finalists in the bid to host the 2016 DNC are Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland. If the Democrats select Columbus it would be the first time ever that both major party conventions are held in the same state but not the same city. 

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