Heres the challenge: Youve got thousands of journalists from all over the world coming to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention. And you want them to feel s-o-o-o welcome that theyll go on to write wonderful things about your city.
If youre the Charlotte in 2012 host committee, youre going to throw them a big honkin party at the 37-acre, 14-venue N.C. Music Factory on the edge of uptown.
Youre going to feed them mountains of food, including fried chicken from Prices Chicken Coop, banana pudding from Merts Heart and Soul, shrimp and grits, boiled peanuts and something called moonshine foie gras truffle.
Youre going to entertain them by filling every stage with comedy, dance and live music bluegrass, rap, hip-hop, rock, country.
And, this being journalists, youre going to pour oceans of wine, beer, cocktails you name it.
On Thursday, the Charlotte host committee gathered representatives from the 12 companies, most of them Charlotte-based, that will help pull off what will be the first official event of DNC week open to all media with credentials for the Democratic National Convention.
It takes a village to plan a media party, cracked Mary Tribble, who coordinates hospitality events sponsored by the Charlotte in 2012 committee.
Set for Sept. 1, from 6-10 p.m., this night of courting the press will cost a couple of million dollars, said Dan Murrey, the host committees executive director.
Helping to fund the event will be Time Warner Cable, which was named the events premier sponsor at Thursdays news conference.
We want to help showcase Charlotte . . . to the rest of the world and (make) the very best first impression to more than 10,000 (journalists), said Carol Hevey, executive vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable East.
Announcements about who will perform at the event will come later, Murrey said.
We definitely want Carolina and regional (acts), he said, but also a few national acts as well.
Tribble said one of the committees media party partners Blumenthal Performing Arts, which showcases national performers at its uptown venues will provide their many, many contacts as the team tries to fill the stages.
Having the event at the N.C. Music Factory a one-time textile mill, when Charlotte was a center for that industry also will help the host committee tell the story of how this New South city reinvented itself over time.
Once an icon of North Carolinas past, Murrey said, the N.C. Music Factory is now a new vibrant venue that employs more than 1,000 people.
Its 14 venues include an amphitheater, the Comedy Zone, the Fillmore Concert Hall, Osso Restaurant and Lounge, The Saloon, and Wet Willies.
Speaking at Thursdays news conference, Noah Lazes president of the ARK Group and the N.C. Music Factory promised the biggest media party on planet Earth. When (journalists) leave, theyll say that Charlotte has a lot more to offer than banking and energy.