A Republican National Committee team made an all-day visit to Las Vegas on Thursday to examine the logistics of putting on the GOP’s presidential nominating convention in 2016 if Las Vegas wins the right to host the event.
The RNC technical site selection committee met with Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, as well as members of the Vegas 2016 team putting together the city’s bid, according to Bob List, a senior adviser to the Las Vegas effort and a former governor and RNC committeeman.
The technical team, which included more than half a dozen staffers, looked over the Las Vegas Convention Center, the proposed site of the 2016 event, and asked questions about everything from electrical power to WiFi capacity, List said.
The convention center, one of the largest in the world and located just off the Strip, has 3.2 million square feet of convention space. It has plenty of space for the nominating convention and media but would need to have more than 70 VIP sky boxes added for the event.
List said the Nevada team had breakfast and lunch with RNC staffers at The Venetian, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, a generous GOP donor. The visitors asked about a range of issues, from the city’s ability to raise funds — $60 million to $70 million — to put on the convention, to questions about transportation and hotels, List said.
McCarran International Airport is a few miles from the heart of the Strip and the convention center, making transportation easy. The Las Vegas Monorail goes from the Strip to the convention center, but not to the airport.
The city has 150,000 hotel rooms, three times the number probably needed for the 2016 convention.
Las Vegas is one of six finalists vying to host the 2016 GOP presidential convention, which will happen over the course of three or four days in June or July, according to the latest RNC planning.
The other cities getting site visits this week and next are Denver, Dallas, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Kansas City, Mo.
The RNC visitors didn’t allow the media to accompany their Vegas tour, maintaining a level of secrecy in the highly competitive contest to win the convention, which could be a major tourist draw and add $400 million to the economy.
Ryan Erwin, an adviser to the Las Vegas bid, said one of the advantages the city’s convention center has is “it’s a blank slate” that can be modified to host the 50,000 delegates and guests expected to attend the balloon-filled celebration.
“They got to see the logistics of how a lot of the convention would work,” Erwin said. “Hopefully, they left impressed.”
Las Vegas is thought to be a front-runner with Dallas for the convention.
During the week of May 6-10, the Site Selection Committee will present its city reports to the RNC at its spring meeting in Memphis, Tenn. Visits by the full RNC Site Selection Committee and RNC delegation will happen in late May and early June. In late summer or early fall, the final convention city will be voted on by the full RNC governing body.