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Election Deadlock is Draining Dollars From D.C. Businesses

Aired December 6, 2000 - 1:36 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, lots of people have reservations about the presidential handoff, but Washington's hotels and caterers aren't among them.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: They wish they were. Since no one knows who the new president will be, no one is booking hotel suites or ballrooms to celebrate, for that matter.

Here's CNN's Bob Beard with more about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB BEARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Normally, a month after the presidential election, all 900 rooms at Washington's Grand Hyatt Hotel would have been snapped up with big money deposits from the party that won the White House in November, but these are not normal times.

MARC ELLIN, GRAND HYATT WASHINGTON: From a financial perspective, we are waiting for millions of dollars to come into our coffers.

BEARD: Also waiting, downtown Washington's Ritz-Carlton, run by the Marriott chain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome.

BEARD: It's pitching a four-night inaugural package for the well-heeled: luxury suite, private butler, pick-up by private learjet, VIP parade seating. Cost? A mere $150,000. So far, though, nobody has anted up.

JAMES MCBRIDE, RITZ-CARLTON WASHINGTON: The time is getting short for us to indeed sell this package, that is working against us a little bit, yes.

BEARD: Uncertainty for caterers, too. Will the theme be Democratic donkeys or GOP elephants; Texas or Tennessee barbeque?

(on camera): Washington's oldest and largest catering company does about a half a million dollars in business just on Inauguration Day alone.

SUSAN LACZ, RIDGEWELLS CATERERS: Our window of opportunity for making big money is getting slimmer and slimmer, so as -- the longer we wait, the more parties are getting canceled.

BEARD (voice-over): Event planners say the longer the election battle goes on, the tougher and more expensive it will be to organize on short notice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- it is going to be a push, obviously.

BEARD: Inaugurals can bring in over $100 million to the Washington area. The question now: Will the winner go all out to celebrate, or will January 20 be a low-key affair, with Americans exhausted and divided over the result?

Bob Beard, CNN Financial News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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