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City may not be ready for GOP convention in 2016, but in 2020 ...


Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is a long-range and positive thinker.

Since 2006, he has worked on bringing the Winter Olympics to Northern Nevada, and he is hopeful about 2022. Now that’s long range.

He’s working on bringing the Republican National Convention in 2016 to Las Vegas. Now that’s positive.

Let me be frank. I don’t think that will happen. But it lays the groundwork for 2020, so it’s not entirely a waste of money.

Krolicki said the organizers are working with a budget of “a modest seven figures” to try for the GOP convention.

It’s not tax dollars, but the effort could pay off big time in the long run. If Las Vegas is chosen in three years or in seven, it means big bucks for the city, which is why the idea is supported by Republicans and even Democrats. Tampa, Fla., in 2012 tallied up an economic boost of more than $400 million. Las Vegans of either party would enjoy a piece of that.

Krolicki laid out all the positives and downplayed the negatives at an editorial board meeting at the Review-Journal.

His positives are all, well, positive. Las Vegas has plenty of rooms. Decent transportation. An airport practically within spitting distance. Raising the $55 million to $75 million to pay for the costs (no taxpayer money is used) shouldn’t be a challenge in Las Vegas.

As someone who has attended a few of these whoop-de-dos in the past, I remember it taking more than an hour on the bus in San Diego in 1996 to get to the Nevada delegation’s hotel, which was not within spitting distance of the convention center. Then there was Philadelphia in 2000, where the convention center lacked cellphone service, a memorable annoyance for all.

The deal breaker I see in Las Vegas is the lack of a large, posh arena.

Krolicki insisted that was not a problem. The first site choice is one that doesn’t exist yet — an arena planned by MGM Resorts International and AEG. Second choice is the Las Vegas Convention Center, and low down on the totem pole is UNLV’s Thomas &Mack Center, which just hit its 30th anniversary and is a bit tired. The lieutenant governor said they are all viable options. Like I said, he’s an upbeat kind of guy.

I think when the MGM/AEG arena is up and operating, Las Vegas could be a strong contender. But that won’t be until spring 2016, and the site selection will be finished long before that happens. The first whittling down of options to a few cities will be next February, and the final site selection is expected between May and August.

Even Krolicki doesn’t think any convention has ever been selected based on an unseen, not-yet-standing arena.

That’s why I think this effort is laying the groundwork for 2020.

Although I see the value of spotlighting Las Vegas, finding the right place to hold the convention is the big challenge. By 2020, the MGM/AEG arena might be a luxury to showcase. Maybe even with cell service.

Krolicki spoke with enthusiasm about the side benefits of just trying, using as an example his work to bring the Winter Olympics to the Reno area and his newfound relationships in the curling world.

He said the World Curling Federation, the Canadian Curling Association and the U.S. Curling Association will bring the first WFG Continental Cup competition to be held outside of Canada to The Orleans Jan. 16-19. For four days, our city will be swarmed by the world’s best curlers.

I laughed when he talked about “curling fever” taking over Las Vegas.

But maybe he’ll have the last laugh if the Republican National Convention comes to Las Vegas for the first time ever. Even if it’s in 2020.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at 702-383-0275.