Dems cancel speedway event designed to launch convention

Democrats canceled an event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway that was designed to open the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Instead, they will hold an opening night event in the city's Tryon Street corridor.

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Party officials denied reports the event was cancelled because of financial concerns.

Multiple media reports say Democrats are between $20 million and $25 million short of their fundraising goal for the convention. And there is talk Democrats are struggling to pay the bills after a self-imposed ban on corporate donations.

Convention officials insisted that the change of venue was simply the result of logistical concerns — the speedway is some 20 miles away from other convention sites — and the decision was made so attendees felt better connected with the week-long conference.

"The location of CarolinaFest 2012 has changed, but the elements of the event will not," said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee, in a statement.

"The event location on Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte puts the celebration in the middle of the 2012 Democratic National Convention’s facilities: Time Warner Cable Arena, the Charlotte Convention Center and Bank of America Stadium. Caucus meetings are open to the public and will be easily accessible from CarolinaFest 2012. The move will make it easy for Charlotte-area residents to utilize public transportation to attend the event and provides additional economic opportunities for local businesses."

Party leaders told the Charlotte Observer they will satisfy their contractual obligations with the speedway. The paper reports that another factor may have been that national news networks had shown little interest in broadcasting live from the speedway, especially on a Labor Day holiday when many Americans will be away from their television sets.

It was the second major schedule change officials announced for its September gathering in Charlotte, N.C.

In January, Democrats said they were shortening their convention from four days to three specifically to accommodate the event at the speedway, which was to take place on Monday, Sept. 3.

"While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte," said Murrey.

The party has yet to announce specific plans for the rescheduled event, but it is expected to include political speakers, musicians and children's activities. 

— This story was updated at 10:30 a.m.