Investing in Dems
Qwest and Xcel pledge millions if convention comes to Denver
By Gargi Chakrabarty
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Qwest has promised to pony up $6 million if Denver hosts the
Democratic National Convention in 2008. The pledge, revised
last Thursday from its original commitment of $5 million
made six weeks earlier, makes the local telecom the largest
potential sponsor of the political event.
Electric and gas utility Xcel will pay $1.5 million in cash
or in-kind service to the DNC if it comes to the Mile High
The utilities have made comparable commitments to the
Republican National Convention to be held the same year in
Minneapolis, their service territory.
If Denver wins the DNC bid over rival New York City, it
would be a unique situation for Qwest and Xcel -- they would
serve both the Democratic and Republic national conventions.
"We really are not looking at this in a political fashion,"
said Qwest Colorado President Chuck Ward, who is a member of
the finance group of the 2008 Denver Host Committee. "This
is not about DNC in Denver. This is a significant business
opportunity for Denver and Qwest."
The host committee's goal is to raise about $20 million from
local businesses, the most ever sought for a single event.
But businesses stand to benefit, too.
The Democratic convention in Denver could have an economic
impact of more than $163 million -- similar to what Boston
received in 2004 when it hosted the Democratic convention,
estimates Richard Scharf, president and CEO of the Denver
Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Ward said Qwest hopes to gain at least $6 million in
business. The telecom has asked the DNC for a range of
businesses such as local telephone, long-distance telephone,
Internet hosting, a cyber center in Denver, wireless and
"Being a lead corporate sponsor and having users all over
the country experience our service is a great opportunity,"
Ward said, adding the DNC would attract more than 35,000
delegates plus national and international media to the
city. "The exposure for the city and the company would be
on the order of a Super Bowl."
Ward was not clear whether the pledge would be recovered
from Qwest ratepayers. He said that was an accounting
issue. "I'd anticipate it would be a business expense,"
Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves said the commitments would be
paid from shareholder profits. Groves also said Xcel has
yet to discuss the details with either the Democratic or the
Gerald Armstrong, a shareholder of both Qwest and Xcel, said
the pledges to lure the DNC to Denver were "unconscionable."
By the numbers
Qwest's pledge to the Democratic National Convention in
Xcel's pledge to the DNC in Denver
estimated economic impact if Denver hosts convention in 2008
chakrabartyg@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-2976