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Pittsburgh drops bid to host Democratic National Convention

| Friday, June 6, 2014, 5:33 p.m.

Citing financial concerns, Pittsburgh has dropped its bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, officials said on Friday.

Instead, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will throw their support behind a proposal to bring the convention to Philadelphia.

“The Democratic National Convention would have been a great opportunity for our city, but we aren't prepared to take on the cost right now,” Peduto said in a prepared statement.

Officials estimated Pittsburgh would have had to raise at least $60 million to host the convention.

“There was never a question of whether the city could handle the convention, but there was quite a financial commitment that came along with it, and we knew that would be a big consideration,” said Craig Davis, president and chief executive of VisitPittsburgh, Allegheny County's tourism agency. “At least we know we can do it physically, and should the opportunity come up in the future, should the finances change and we feel we can make a go at it, we can do it again.”

Democrats invited Pittsburgh and 14 other cities, including Philadelphia, to apply to host the presidential nominating convention. Peduto, Fitzgerald and other local Democrats said at the time that they planned to submit an application and gauge financial support.

Fitzgerald said a Philadelphia convention would benefit the entire state.

“We can accomplish more together for the good of our commonwealth by working cooperatively,” he said in a statement.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, said it was great for Pittsburgh to be considered.

“If you can't have it in Pittsburgh, I'd love to have it someplace in Pennsylvania,” he said. “That's great if Philadelphia can afford it.”

Peduto earlier Friday sent a letter to city employees advising them to expect spending cuts. A five-year financial plan released last week by state financial overseers recommends a one-year wage freeze, additional employee health care contributions and raises of 1 percent and 2 percent in ensuing years.

The mayor and City Council have yet to approve the plan and have said they will amend it.

“My administration is working with City Council on ways to minimize the impacts on city workers as fairly as we can,” he wrote in the letter, adding that the administration is pressing nonprofits for contributions. “The cuts are not finished, though. While we are looking for revenues to balance the five-year plan, it is clear there will be spending cuts necessary and they will impact you in some way.”

Spokesman Tim McNulty said the mayor attempted to offer employees an overview of the plan and reassure them that the administration was doing everything to lessen the impact. He said the administration is not contemplating job cuts.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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