Houston council approves bid for 2020 democratic convention

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston's 16-person city council voted to pursue a bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Council member Greg Travis was the sole no vote.

Council members spoke in glowing terms about the proposal, that Mayor Sylvester Turner said would be a great bi-partisan event for the people who live in Houston.

"We are selling the city of Houston," Turner said.

While the resolution approved Wednesday is non-binding, it signals official city support for the bid and grants some small concessions to the DNC, like the use of space for offices and parking and rent-free use of the George R. Brown Convention Center for media staging. The Toyota Center would be the official site of the convention.

The city expects at least 35,000 visitors based on previous conventions, said Brenda Bazan, CEO of Houston First, the city's quasi-governmental tourism bureau.

Travis said the economic impact on cities is grossly overstated, citing from a study, noting that the impact to local business is negative, while the impact to national chains goes up.

He also noted that the convention would bring protesters and crime and that the "jails are full."

Earlier this year, Turner expressed disappointment over the failed bid for Amazon's new headquarters after a city partnership offered the Seattle-based company at least $268 million in "cash and tax incentives."

RELATED: What Houston offered Amazon to build headquarters here

Turner will be "significantly involved" in this bid, a spokeperson told ABC13 last week.

"Too many parts are controlling the whole," Turner said at a January council meeting. "What has happened for too long and too many years is [the city has] deferred. That time is no more."

"I could've stomached if, at the end, we didn't [get it], at the end, still, I would not have liked it, but not to get in the top 20? That's unacceptable."

Wednesday, he weighed in on the Amazon bid. He said there were those against bidding for Amazon, but he "welcomed competition."

"When they snubbed us, we heard about that too," Turner said Wednesday.

Houston stands with seven other cities for the convention: Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Denver; Miami Beach; Milwaukee; New York and San Francisco.

Two cities have never hosted before: Birmingham and Milwaukee.

Houston last hosted the Democrats in 1928.

The bid is contingent on a number of factors and while likely, not guaranteed, a spokesman said.

Applications are due to the DNC June 15.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.