The 2012 Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Reuters

With the 2016 Democratic National Convention less than two years away, the Democratic National Committee announced Monday that the competition to host the event has been narrowed down to three finalists. New York City, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, are the three remaining contenders for the event, which will see Democrats unite under a presidential candidate, while other leading lights from the party will give speeches and rally support. The announcement means Arizona and Alabama are no longer in the running.

The three cities were selected from five potential locations after visits by the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group, according to DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. “We’re thrilled to move to the next step of the selection process to determine where Democrats will come together to nominate the 45th president of the United States,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement announcing the three cities still in the running. “We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant group of cities interested in hosting this special event and we thank Phoenix and Birmingham for showcasing their special communities. We look forward to working with Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia as we go forward.”

Ohio and to a lesser extent Pennsylvania are seen as key swing states, while New York is reliably Democratic. But placing a convention in any given state often fails to carry it for a party.

Wasserman Schultz went on to announce that the DNC has decided to host the convention either the week of July 18, July 25 or Aug. 22, and that it will reveal the host city and the date of the event in early 2015. The Democratic National Convention, like its Republican counterpart, is a massive, multi-day gathering in which the party comes together to nominate a candidate for president. It is one of the most-watched political events every year, drawing thousands of people and an infusion in spending to host cities.

The 2012 convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, while 2008’s was in Denver, 2004’s was in Boston and 2000’s was in Los Angeles. The last time New York -- which hosted the 2004 Republican National Convention -- held the Democratic National Convention was at Madison Square Garden in 1992. The last time Philadelphia hosted a Democratic National Convention was in 1948 at Convention Hall. Columbus has never hosted the event.