Democrats narrowed the list of contenders for their 2016 national convention to three cities on Monday, announcing the party's next presidential candidate will be formally nominated in New York City, Philadelphia or Columbus, Ohio.

The Democratic National Committee said convention bids made by Birmingham, Alabama and Phoenix had been eliminated.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, announced the finalists in an email to Democrats and said the event would be held either the weeks of July 18, July 25 or August 22. She said the DNC expects to announce the host city in early 2015.

The three remaining cities could offer an appealing backdrop for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender should she seek the White House again.

Clinton represented New York in the Senate and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was first nominated at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 1992. The couple lives in nearby Westchester County and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has promoted the Brooklyn convention site as a popular option for the party's liberal base.

The Clintons have deep ties to Philadelphia's organizers, including Mayor Michael Nutter and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. The city was the site of the 2000 Republican convention and its East Coast location and patriotic heritage as the home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell could be a plus.

Columbus, meanwhile, would put Democrats in the center of the nation's top presidential battleground state and offer an in-state rebuttal to Republicans, who are holding their convention in Cleveland.

The winning bid is expected to be based on a number of factors, including the city's ability to raise an estimated $65 million or more along with the potential venues, hotels and transportation options for delegates, party activists and the media.

Birmingham, Alabama, and Phoenix, Arizona, had both offered out-of-the-box options. Alabama is a solidly Republican state and has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976, limiting its appeal. Democrats would like to turn Arizona into a presidential battleground state -- the party has not carried it since 1996 -- but some party activists have been critical of the state's approach to immigration enforcement.

Republicans are planning to hold their Cleveland convention beginning either June 27 or July 18. The DNC is keeping the July 18 week as an option but would hold it a different week if Republicans select a mid-July convention.