Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Obama Campaign Eyeing McCormick Place for Election Night Event

An estimated 240,000 people attended 2008 event in Grant Park

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In 2008, the backdrop was iconic. But if Barack Obama wins re-election, his party will be in a very different setting. Rob Elgas reports.

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President Barack Obama's campaign hopes to hold its Election Night event in Chicago at McCormick Place, the campaign confirmed to NBC Chicago on Wednesday.

A contract is likely, according to a source with knowledge close to the event, but has not yet been completely locked down.

"It's certainly a known venue to Secret Service and Chicago Police," said former Secret Service agent Tom Kasza, who has protected four presidents in his career.

While McCormick Place is the largest convention center in the United States, it's a far different venue from 2008, when an estimated 240,000 people poured into Grant Park for the the Election Night rally and subsequent celebration.

The biggest concern for the campaign is weather, according to NBC Chicago's source. Early November can often be cold and wet.

Others, however, have noted the security is also an issue, making the event at Grant Park a difficult one to recreate.

"What McCormick Place, or a venue such as that, is going to allow them to do is have different rooms, different venues and controlled corridors," said Kasza.

McCormick Place was last on the national and world stage in May, when Chicago hosted the NATO Summit. And while that fact may give police and the Secret Service some advantages, there could one big drawback.

"In this instance, having it announced so far in advance brings in different intelligence concerns for the Secret Service," said Kasza.

The campaign announced earlier this week that Obama will vote in Chicago on Oct. 25. First Lady Michelle Obama will cast her ballot by mail.

The Grant Park event, including security, cost an estimated at $1.74 million and was paid by the Democratic National Committee.
 

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