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Xcel neighbors buoyed by convention news

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Moe Sharif
Moe Sharif owns restaurants Chico Chica and the Downtowner Woodfire Grille.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Stawicki

When the Wild cancelled the 2004-2005 season due to a strike, local bars and restaurants saw their profits nosedive.  Now the businesses that survived are looking forward to the 2008 GOP convention, and not just because they expect a spike in business. Pat Boemer owns Patrick McGovern's pub and restaurant about a block from the Xcel Energy Center.  Boemer, like several other business owners, says it'll put the Twin Cities in the national spotlight.

"I think it will be a great situation for St. Paul," says Boemer. "I think they made the right choice and I think it'll put St. Paul on the map for people are here for the first time.  So, that's exciting."

Moe Sharif agrees.  Sharif owns both the Chico Chica restaurant and Downtowner Woodfire Grille about a block down from McGovern's. Sharif says the convention will provide a serious economic boost for local businesses.   But political conventions also attract mass protests.  At the Republican National Convention in New York two years ago, police arrested more than 1,800 non-violent protesters. So is Sharif concerned?

Pat Boemer
Pat Boemer who owns Patrick McGovern's Pub and Restaurant.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Stawicki

"Absolutely not.  Any time there are political activities anywhere that goes with the territory. So that a lot of people come and protest is not an unknown," he says.

In addition to restaurants and bars, one major business in the area has prepared for anything to happen at the convention -- even a disaster.  United Hospital is the closest medical center to the Xcel and is in walking distance.  United spokesperson Terri Dresen says several years ago, the hospital devised plans on how it would handle an influx of patients if there was ever a medical emergency at the Xcel Energy center.

"We are the closest hospital from the airport, from the Mall of America, and from the Xcel Energy Center -- four major sites where something could happen. So this hospital has taken a lot of time, energy, and resources to prepare for any potential issue that could happen at any of these big sites.  So we're pretty confident we'll be able to handle anything that comes through the door," says Dresen.

Arguably, employees who work at local businesses around the Xcel will face the greatest challenges due to the convention and that's getting in and out of St. Paul.