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Democrats finalizing city visits ahead of convention announcement

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(MGN)

SAN ANTONIO (KABB/WOAI) - The Democratic National Committee is finalizing dates to visit the three cities vying to host the 2020 nominating convention.

Officials with the DNC will visit Houston in mid-August and the Miami area in early September, according to sources with direct knowledge of the visits. Milwaukee is expected to hold its site visit in August but it has not been locked in.

The DNC confirmed it will begin conducting site visits in the fall but declined to provide further information.

The city visits come after officials with each of the cities traveled to Washington on June 29 to meet with representatives of the site selection committee.

Sources inside the meetings said the cities were asked about their venues, housing, transportation and security capabilities. Alan Bernstein, who attended the meeting with the Houston delegation, said the June meeting was more about the city's abilities to host the convention than political strategy.

Democrats will hold their nominating convention from July 13-16, 2020, to avoid competing with the high-rating summer Olympics.

Mayor Sylvester Turner led the Houston delegation in the June 29 meeting. Susan Christian, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, and a representative from Houston First also attended the meeting in Washington.

Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown attended the meeting with the delegation, a team spokesperson confirmed. The Toyota Center, where the Rockets play, is expected to serve as the main convention site while the George R. Brown Convention Center will serve as media central, officials with knowledge of the bid confirmed.

A successful convention, Turner believes, will set the city up to host the 2024 Republican nominating convention. A spokesperson for Turner said they city would still bid on the 2024 convention even if it is not awarded the 2020 convention, although it is “confident we will, due to superior facilities, experience hosting mega-events and a unique demographic and cultural environment.”

Sources say Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta are expected to sit on the city’s host committee. A spokesperson for the Astros declined to comment on Crane’s behalf and a spokeswoman for Fertitta said he was not available to comment. Texans owner Bob McNair will not serve on the host committee, a team spokesperson confirmed.

In a phone interview, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, if selected, the convention would take place in Miami and Miami Beach. Miami-Dade County will also be involved to ensure smooth coordination between the two cities.

The American Airlines Arena – located in downtown Miami – would serve as the main venue for the convection while the Miami Beach Convention Center will serve as the secondary venue. The convention center recently underwent a $515 million renovation and is expected to open Sept. 23, Gelber said.

The Miami-area’s bid also included a surface lot, which would serve as a media venue.

The Miami-area delegation to Washington included Gelber, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Chief of Police Jorge Colina and Miami Beach Chief of Police Daniel Oates, officials confirmed. Miami-Dade Police Department Deputy Director Alfredo Ramirez III also attended with the delegation.

Information on Milwaukee’s bid was not immediately available. A source with knowledge of the Brew City’s June meeting said Mayor Tom Barrett did not attend. While a potential venue has not been named, Fiserv Forum would likely serve as the main convention site. The arena is expected to open in late August.

The party is expected to announce the host city in early 2019.

The Republican National Committee previously announced it will hold its nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The dates for the convention have not been announced.

Follow Stephen Sanchez on Twitter @SSanchez_TV.