CLEVELAND - Cleveland learned this afternoon they have advanced to the next round in the bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. They will be receiving a visit in June by the full 13-member RNC Site Selection Committee.
Word came following a conference call by the site selection committee to narrow the list which also included Dallas, Denver and Kansas City. Cincinnati and Las Vegas pulled their bids from the process.
The committee will visit the remaining cities between June 2 and June 13.
To date much of Cleveland's bid has been about the technical details, showing they have the facilities, hotel rooms, meeting spaces and money to host a convention this next stage broadens to include what it will be like for the delegates coming to Cleveland.
"They need to know that their delegates are going to walk away having a great experience," said Positively Cleveland President David Gilbert. "This is critically important for them, these are all of their most important people from around the country that come together in one place at one time."
Cleveland's been down this road before as a finalist to host the 2008 Republican National Convention, the difference between the two bids though are night and day.
“There’s a distinct difference between Cleveland in 2006 and Cleveland in 2014 so we believe that we’re well positioned to take this all the way," said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.
Host Committee Executive Chair Terry Egger agrees "We're not waiting to get better to host a convention, we're there now and we've been given the opportunity to prove that," Egger said.
The advancing of Cleveland drew praise political leaders. "Today's announcement offers further proof of the enormous progress we have made here in Cleveland and across all of Northeast Ohio," said County Executive Ed FitzGerald in a statement.
Governor John Kasich who has pledged $10 million to the Cleveland effort through Jobs Ohio also sent his congratulations. "I have been thrilled that Ohio had three cities in the running, I am glad that JobsOhio stepped up and offered its support, and I look forward to helping Cleveland's bid however I can."
Last month a smaller delegation from the RNC, including Site Selection Chair Enid Mickelsen, visited Cleveland and five other cities to make sure they had the facilities to stage a convention in terms of hotel rooms, meeting spaces and transportation before making today’s decision.
Most of that April 30 visit focused on Quicken Loans Arena, which would actually host the convention.
In going forward organizers look to sell not only what Cleveland and Ohio has to offer but the region beyond. "It’s not just Ohio, this is going to be a whole Great Lakes initiative because it’s time for us as a Great Lakes economy, the fourth largest economy in the world to get on stage," said Greater Cleveland Partnership President Joe Roman.