By Hans Nichols -Bloomberg News
Democrats canceled a political convention kick-off event at theÂ CharlotteÂ Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotteâ€™s main business district, the conventionâ€™s host committee announced.
â€œWhile we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte,â€ said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.
The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people.
Murrey said that logistics, not costs, were behind the decision to cancel the Speedway event.
â€œIn order to facilitate public caucus meetings — and to maximize accessibility, transportation, and proximity of all guests — we have decided that moving CarolinaFest 2012 to Uptown Charlotte is the best way to achieve that goal,â€ Murrey said in a statement that the host committee released this morning, after Bloomberg reported last night that it may call off the Speedway festival.
In January, Steve Kerrigan, chief executive officer of the convention committee, said that Democrats were shortening their convention from four days to three â€œto make room for a day to organize and celebrate the Carolinas,Â VirginiaÂ and the South and kick off the convention at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day,â€ Sept. 3.
Kerrigan also announced that Obama would accept his partyâ€™s nomination at the almost 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers professional football team. The outdoor finale would echo Obamaâ€™s convention speech at Invesco Field in Denver four years ago.
While the Democrats will receive a $50 million grant from the Department ofÂ Homeland Securityto defray police costs for the Sept. 4-6 convention, security for the Speedway festival may not have been eligible because the event isnâ€™t part of the official convention proceedings.
Republicans will also receive a $50 million grant for their four-day convention in Tampa, Florida, August 27-30.
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