Finances, logistics play big role in GOP selection of host city for 2016 confab

WASHINGTON — Top Republican leaders said Monday the decision where to hold the party’s 2016 national convention will be based on whether a host city can produce financial support and satisfied delegates rather than votes on Election Day.

“The first thing to me, it’s a business decision as far as where the site is chosen,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said. “The way I look at it, it’s first, finances. Second, transportation, hotels, the delegate experience. We have got to make sure we put on a convention that gives our (presidential) nominee a bump.”

“We recognize you can add on fireworks and other things later, but you have to have that fundamental structure in place to make a convention work right,” added Enid Mickelson, chairwoman of the site selection committee.

The GOP officials spoke during a break from hearing pitches from five of the eight cities bidding for the major convention.

Kansas City, Mo.; Cleveland; Denver; Phoenix; and Columbus, Ohio, were scheduled for presentations. Las Vegas, Dallas and Cincinnati were rescheduled for March 21 after members of their bid teams ran into problems making it to Washington because of a winter storm.

“So far, the groups are coming in enthusiastic and fired up,” Priebus said. “They want to convince this committee to pick their city.”

“They are substantive as well,” said Mickelson, a former Utah congresswoman.

The convention is expected to draw 50,000 people and provide millions of dollars in economic benefits to the host city.

Peppered with questions about whether Republicans would be more likely to choose a red or blue city, or a city in a red or blue state, Priebus made clear he is thinking more green.

“No. 1, securing the dollars,” Priebus said. “No. 1.”

Republicans are requiring host cities be able to raise $55 million to $70 million to support the event, make available a venue to accommodate 18,000 people and 70 sky boxes, reserve 17,000 hotel rooms, organize 5,000 volunteers and offer at least 250,000 square feet of space for media next to the convention hall.

Priebus and Mickelson said they view the selection process as a business decision that is focused on which city can deliver a smooth convention that provides their presidential nominee with “a stable platform” to introduce themselves to American voters.

Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban can be contacted at 202-783-1760 or at PUrban@stephensmedia.com. Follow @Peter_H_Urban on Twitter.