North Texas is still in the running to host the 2016 national Republican convention.
Top officials with the party on Thursday narrowed down the list of potential sites to host the 2016 national convention, leaving Dallas, Cleveland, Denver and Kansas City as the remaining contenders.
Part of the local draw may be the prospect of using the AT&T Stadium in Arlington as the site for the convention’s opening or closing ceremonies — or the fact that former President George W. Bush has made his home in Dallas since leaving the White House.
“To be one of the final four cities under consideration is a great honor,” said Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are going to do everything we can do to make it easy for the site selection committee to select Dallas and North Texas.”
The Republican National Committee announced the cities still in the race for the convention after Cincinnati and Las Vegas withdrew from consideration because they didn’t meet the criteria laid out or didn’t have the proper facility or time to prepare for the event.
“All cities excelled in nearly every aspect of their bids and presentation this year, but these four cities stood out from the field from the start of this process and deserve a deeper look by the full committee,” Enid Mickelsen, chair of the site selection committee, said in a statement.
“I applaud the effort and commitment shown by all cities involved, and I thank all parties for their dedication to this endeavor,” Mickelsen said. “The 2016 convention will provide a unique opportunity to showcase our Party as well as the host city itself, and I’m confident we will choose the best possible setting to nominate our next Republican president.”
Republican officials announced their decision after discussing the issue on a conference call.
Dallas was the site of the 1984 Republican National Convention, where President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush were nominated for re-election.
Texas Republican Party officials announced earlier this year they they have chosen Dallas as the site of their 2016 convention, the nation’s largest political gathering.
The national GOP convention is expected to be held in June or July of 2016 and could draw tens of thousands of delegates, alternates, guests, officials and more — some of whom might stay in the area for weeks.
The next step is for the full RNC site selection delegation to visit the four cities being considered as hosts, probably in early June.
Dallas expects the committee to visit during the second week of June, Jones said.
The committee has asked Dallas to show venue options for both 2016 dates.
If the GOP chooses a June date, Dallas proposes to hold opening and closing ceremonies and the convention itself at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
That’s to avoid the possibility of a scheduling problem at the American Airlines Center in Dallas if either the Mavericks or Stars are in the playoffs that year.
If a July date is chosen, all events might be held at the Dallas arena or the convention might be held there, with opening and/or closing ceremonies at the Arlington stadium.
“Both venues work for the convention. It’s a different experience at AT&T Stadium as opposed to American Airlines Center,” Jones said. “We are going to present a strong case for both venues.”
Top Republican officials who visited the Metroplex last month for a technical review toured both stadiums and looked at issues ranging from financing and transportation to logistics and security.
Decision by late summer
More cities may be cut from consideration any time between June and August.
The full RNC governing body plans to choose the city to host the 2016 convention by late summer or fall, officials say.
Officials project that the 2016 convention could require 16,000 hotel rooms on the peak nights and a total of nearly 100,000 hotel rooms during the entire political event, potentially sending other visitors down the road to other communities in the Metroplex.
Cincinnati withdrew its bid to host the convention “based on the criteria set forth by the RNC for the main arena,” according to the committee.
And Las Vegas withdrew based on the criteria for a traditional arena and “enough on-site preparatory time to accommodate the 2016 convention,” the committee stated.
“Prior to the committee’s vote, Cincinnati and Las Vegas notified the RNC that they would no longer pursue their bid to host the 2016 convention,” Mickelsen said. “While the committee understands their decision, both cities made a compelling case for 2016 and would make excellent hosts should they pursue efforts to host a future RNC convention.”
Denver the one to beat?
Dallas organizers were encouraged Thursday by the fact that Las Vegas and Cincinnati bowed out.
“Las Vegas is always a tough competitor,” Jones said. “They have so much money and tourism infrastructure. The fact that they are no longer in the running is something we are pleased to learn.”
Now Jones considers Denver to be the city to beat.
Even so, members of the Republican Party site selection committee who toured North Texas last month said they found Dallas to be a “very vibrant, exciting city today,” Jones said.
“That is what they are looking for. We showed off the sports venues, the shopping venues, the restaurants, the bars and the museums,” he said.
“They want to make sure the delegate experience is what they are looking for. That is what we can offer in Dallas and North Texas.”