The Republican National Committee has invited Charlotte to bid on its 2016 political convention, and Mayor Patrick Cannon said Wednesday that he will meet with city staff members to discuss whether Charlotte should submit a proposal.
Charlotte was considered a good host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and North Carolina could be a closely contested state in the next presidential election – two factors that could help the city’s bid.
But answering the RNC’s 29-page Request for Proposal will be time-consuming, and it’s unclear whether the city and business leaders can muster enough energy to try and host Charlotte’s second convention in four years.
“If a convention can economically impact our city’s bottom line in a favorable manner and provide both domestic and international positive exposure for the city, region, and state, we should greatly consider responding to the request for proposal,” said Cannon, a Democrat.
A consultant hired by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said the DNC had a nearly $164 million economic impact in the Charlotte region.
The deadline to submit a bid is Feb. 26. The RNC will host what it calls an “Interested Cities Day” in Washington, D.C., in the next few weeks.
Last week, a Kansas City TV station reported the RNC had a list of 24 cities that were on its first list of potential candidates to host its convention, and Charlotte was not on that list.
But Ryan Mahoney, an RNC spokesperson, said Wednesday that list wasn’t final and was only preliminary. Three other cities have been invited to bid, he said.
The RNC sent Charlotte a letter Dec. 16 that included a RFP for the convention.
One potential problem for Charlotte is whether the city can find enough corporate money to help with fundraising.
After fundraising efforts for the 2012 DNC fell short, the host committee tapped a $10 million credit line provided by Duke Energy. Duke confirmed in May that it wouldn’t be repaid the money, costing shareholders $6 million.
When asked about the potential problems in raising money, Cannon said he only wanted to focus on the “public aspect” of a potential bid at first.
Glenn McCall of Rock Hill, a member of the Republican National Committee, is going to Washington in late January for an RNC meeting in which a site selection committee will be named.
“Charlotte did a fantastic job hosting the Democratic National Convention, so a lot of lessons learned. And I think it’s a wise thing and a smart thing for us to do,” McCall said.
When asked if having the DNC in 2012 would help or hurt Charlotte’s chances, McCall said. “It’s a strength really because it was proven that the city can host a large event.”
State Republican Chairman Claude Pope met in Charlotte Wednesday with Cannon and other city officials about the convention. He said the city is deciding whether to submit a formal bid.
“We had a very good meeting,” Pope said. “The folks in Charlotte are very interested in bringing the Republican National Convention to the area. The decision that they need to make right now is are they going to move forward?”
Like Democrats, Republicans like to move their conventions around the country. The 2004 GOP convention was held in New York. The 2008 in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the 2012 in Tampa.
Charlotte’s walkable downtown was praised by visitors during the DNC, though some delegates complained about the lack of hotel rooms near Time Warner Cable Arena, which hosted the event.
Since the DNC, one new hotel has opened – a 172-room Hyatt Place – and two other developers have said they will build small to medium-sized uptown hotels.
Charlotte Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said staff members are meeting to decide whether to pursue a bid.
He said the city will meet with Cannon, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the CRVA, City Manager Ron Carlee and other local leaders to “determine the feasibility of submitting a proposal.”
President Barack Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the state in 2012 with 50.4 percent of the vote.
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