Potential 2016 GOP Convention Host Cities Make Their Case to the RNC...1 / 6 >  

March 3, 2014 - Braving a snow storm, representatives of five of the eight cities seeking to host the 2016 Republican National Convention made formal presentations on their bids at RNC headquarters.  During the day groups of political and business leaders from Columbus, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix and Cleveland made successive hour-long pitches to the RNC; groups from Cincinnati, Dallas and Las Vegas were affected by the weather and will make their presentations on March 21.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus said that first and foremost the party is looking for a host city that will meet the party's financial goals; although he did not put it in so many words, his message to the cities was "show us the money."  According to news reports the figure cities must raise is about $50 million.  Priebus said the second major priority is transportation and hotel space, and he emphasized that these can be significantly impacted by security requirements.  In some past conventions, delegates have had to endure long bus trips between their hotels and venues.  It is not enough to plan based on normal traffic.  "Once the Secret Service comes in, things change," Priebus said.  "The delegate experience is important, Priebus said. 

Priebus said political considerations are a secondary concern, noting that, "There doesn't seem to be a correlation between holding a convention [in a state] and winning a particular state."  (Indeed the last time Republicans carried the state where there convention was held was in 1992 when they convened in Houston and later won Texas).   Enid Mickelsen (+), chairperson of the RNC's 13-person site selection committee (+), concurred with Priebus' focus on finances, stating, "This has always needed to be a business decision." 

Mickelsen said the site selection process aims to identify the city that can provide "the most stable and convenient platform for our nominee," and Priebus said the objective is a convention that "gives our nominee a bump" heading into the closing months of the campaign.

Cities submitted their bids last week, on February 26; a number of cities have also hosted receptions during RNC meetings over the past year.  Today's presentations were done in a conference room with tables arranged in a U-shaped configuration.  One one side sat representatives of the city making its presentation – from five to nine people; there was also a lectern and a projector.  Across from them sat members of the Site Selection Committee.  At the top of the U were RNC representatives with considerable convention experience: Bill Harris, Maria Cino and Jeff Larson.  

The Site Selection Committee is starting to get into the substance and details of the bids.  At the top of the list are the financial goals, but they are weighing myriad other questions.  For example, venue availability may be an issue for some cities.  Priebus envisages holding the convention in late June or mid-July, but the RNC also seeks a six-week window to prepare the convention hall.  For cities with NBA and NHL sports franchises playing in their venues that could prove to be a problem; a couple of the interested cities have suggested that a full six weeks may not be necessary; five weeks may be sufficient with modern construction techniques and the ability to build modular units off site, as was done for the 1992 convention in Houston.  It is not clear how flexible the RNC will be on such details, but making "that good business decision" is the clear bottom line. 

After the three remaining cities make their presentations, the next step will be visits by the Site Selection Committee in late Spring, followed by determination of the finalist city (or cities), and in late Summer or Fall a vote by the full RNC.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Site Selection Committee Chair Enid Mickelsen speak to reporters.

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