Dem Convention Over Budget

The Democratic National Convention (search) will be more than $5 million over budget due to increased construction costs and unexpected production expenses.

Construction on the FleetCenter (search) sports arena, site of the event, began last week after a delay due to union protests and is slated to cost $13.9 million, up from an original estimate of $10.7 million, according to Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Peggy Wilhide. Nearly $1 million of the additional costs will be paid by media outlets covering the convention.

Convention organizers also approved a $9.1 million production budget this week, up from a projected cost of $6 million. Much of the increase stems from higher-than-expected labor costs, Wilhide said, and other additional expenses that were not anticipated two years ago when the budget was planned.

Labor costs are 50 percent higher in Boston than Los Angeles, where the Democratic convention was held in 2000, Wilhide said.

Special requests made by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search), who has final say on what the convention looks like, have also added to the price tag. Among the requests by Kerry aides and party officials: two side podiums in addition to the main stage.

Additional costs also stem from the need to reinforce the arena's steel beams to support the extra lighting that will be needed for the stage, which will be located in the center of the arena, Wilhide said.

Under the original contract, Boston 2004 — the host committee — pledged to raise $39.5 million for the convention. Through the beginning of June, the committee was $2 million short of its goal.