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Posted: Saturday, Jul. 21, 2012

Behind the rush to rename Bank of America stadium

Published in: Democratic Convention
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    Big CATS move: CATS is moving the transportation center Sept. 3-5 to a temporary location at South Mint and Third streets – and bus routes will change. From late July through August, CATS will conduct a series of transportation fairs in uptown buildings, at the current transportation center and at certain LYNX stations. Attendees will learn how buses will be rerouted during the convention and information on shuttles between the LYNX Blue Line Carson Station to the temporary transit center. Here are a couple of the upcoming transportation fairs: July 31: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tryon Plaza, 112 S. Tryon St.; Aug. 1: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wells Fargo Atrium, 301 S. Tryon St.

    Get involved: Visit for volunteer, vendor, job and donor information.

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    The big issues in the presidential campaign last week: President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more tax returns, and … what to call Charlotte’s football stadium. noted that former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile had referred to it as “Panthers Stadium,” not Bank of America Stadium, in a recent email for the Charlotte in 2012 host committee.

    Another email in June used the same language when referring to the place where Obama will give his acceptance speech Sept. 6.

    So were Democrats trying to disassociate themselves with corporate America, and particularly Charlotte’s hometown bank? That was the implication of the Politico item, which insisted – inaccurately – that “it’s not like the stadium was ever called Panthers Stadium.”

    True, that was never its official name. But that’s sometimes been its nickname.

    Republicans seized on the Politico item, tweeting away. And some newspapers went even further than Politico. “Democrats Drop Bank of America name from North Carolina convention venue, calling it ‘Panthers Stadium,’ ” read the headline in The New York Daily News.

    Trouble is, “Bank of America Stadium” – the official name – is all over the websites for the host committee and the Democratic National Campaign Committee. And that’s what Mayor Anthony Foxx called it during a Wednesday news conference about campaign volunteers getting a guaranteed seat at Obama’s speech.

    Even conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh weighed in, calling it “Black Panthers Stadium.”

    The Charlotte host committee, which initially didn’t return Politico’s phone calls, finally contacted the website to say that both names are used locally and both are used by the host committee. Politico published an “update.” Tim Funk

    Brattain is back on the job, documenting the red carpet

    Longtime WSOC (Channel 9) anchor Kim Brattain is planning to do a short documentary on the Democratic National Convention this September.

    Brattain, who left Channel 9 in 2008 after 16 years, now runs her own production company, Phase2Productions. She’s planning an upbeat documentary that goes behind the scenes of the convention.

    “Charlotte is going to get criticized,” she says. “All that’s going to linger are the things we did wrong. This is hopefully going to be a piece about how our gracious Southern city rolled out the red carpet.”

    Collaborating with Brattain will be portrait photographer Mitchell Kearney, who has been interested in branching into film.

    Brattain says she’s aiming for a 10-minute documentary, which is an optimum length these days to get considered for film festivals. Her first documentary, “A Glimpse of Grace,” about hardships in the Congo, was a finalist in three film festivals. She plans to follow people contributing behind the scenes such as Stacie Jacobs, a Cabarrus event planner busy coordinating events for the delegations staying in the Concord area. Mark Washburn

    Convention will be learning experience for 100 students

    More than 100 college students from across the country will get a convention close-up through UNC Charlotte.

    Students will take part in the Washington Center’s Democratic National Convention Academic Seminar, which is partnering with UNCC. The program runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7. Students will hear lectures from political leaders and volunteer at the convention, which starts Sept. 4.

    “The national convention, an integral part of the U.S. political process, is a piece of preserved history,” said Mike Smith, president of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. “Students learn … in the thick of it.”

    The first week will focus on the history of presidential campaigns and conventions. The second will take place at the convention. Students will get volunteer assignments, even writing articles for papers such as the Dallas Morning News.

    “These students are going to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn in an environment which epitomizes the American democratic process,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois. Jim Morrill

    Could a hurricane force GOP to seek refuge in Charlotte?

    Could a hurricane blow the Republican convention from Tampa, Fla., to … Charlotte?

    That was the buzz around some parts of the Queen City. The premise: If a last-minute hurricane blows into Tampa during the last week of August, Republicans would flee to a city already set up for a national convention and the needs of a worldwide media.

    “We have contingency plans for any kind of interruptions that may happen,” says James Davis, head of the GOP convention’s Committee on Arrangements.”

    So, could those plans include Charlotte? Don’t count on it.

    “We’re confident that our contingency plans are in place, and we’ll have a successful convention,” Davis says. Jim Morrill

    Who’s in, who’s out as party conventions loom?

    The list of Democratic candidates skipping the convention here continues to grow. But there’s another list, and it’s getting longer, too: Republicans who will be no-shows at their party’s party in Tampa.

    Last week, former President George W. Bush declined an invitation to attend. Among other GOP politicians staying home: former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who said he was not going in order to protest his party’s failure to address the “trust deficit”; former Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who will stay home to campaign; former World Wrestling Federation executive Linda McMahon, who’s running for the Senate in Connecticut; former President George H.W. Bush; and U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., a tea party favorite whose Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, is planning to come to Charlotte. Tim Funk

    No party business yet? Just throw your own

    Reps at some special-event locations around town thought they would have heard by now from people interested in renting their spaces for DNC events.

    Instead, “zero,” said Jay Parton, facility coordinator for Foundation of Shalom Park, the campus off Providence Road.

    At a recent meeting of Charlotte event coordinators, Parton said, “Everyone asked the same question: ‘Do you hear anything about the DNC?’ Pretty much the answer that everyone gives is no.”

    Meeting spaces and reception halls on the campus would be suitable venues for events, Parton said, especially for state delegations staying in nearby SouthPark-area hotels.

    While it’s possible locales may get tapped closer to the convention, chances are dimming. Places that agreed to give convention organizers first dibs were released from that obligation at the end of June. A total of 130 venues offered convention organizers first right of refusal on their spaces, according to host committee spokeswoman Suzi Emmerling. Those agreements were nonbinding.

    Host committee members even escorted outside groups looking for breakfast or party spaces to different venues, said Emmerling, who won’t give specifics about successful matchups. But she said “hundreds” of events will take place.

    Over at Enventys, a Third Ward (near Bank of America Stadium) innovation hub that works with inventors, convention folks have toured the former grist mill with hardwood floors and a full television studio. No offers yet, said spokeswoman Mary Dickson.

    So the creative minds at the 23,000-square-foot space, home of the award-winning “Everyday Edisons” television series may make their own party, Dickson said – to show off what they do to visiting media, and “to be a part of the whole week.” Celeste Smith

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