Cleveland submits bid for the Republican National Convention as state and county pledge funds

CLEVELAND - JobsOhio is pledging up to $10 million in assistance to Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati should they be successful in landing either the 2016 Republican or Democratic National Conventions.

Gov. John Kasich's spokesperson Rob Nichols told Newschannel 5 letters were sent to the three host committees with the pledge which would cover up to 20 percent of the host city's financial obligation of about $50 million to host a convention.

The announcement came as Cuyahoga County Council Tuesday pledged $2.5 million in support to Cleveland's bid if they are successful in landing one or both conventions.

"Is it worth it economically?," asked County Executive Ed FitzGerald. "It really is because we're talking about 35,000 visitors if we get one of these conventions," he said.

Those numbers translate to an estimated economic impact of $200 million.

Before voting, council heard from attorney Jon Pinney who is serving as counsel for Cleveland 2016 Host Committee Inc. Pinney prepared the 300-page bid which will be in the hands of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday morning.

"It is an extremely competitive bid, by far the best bid that the city has ever submitted in the past, " said Pinney who also prepared the city's bid to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

New amenities like the convention center and the 600 room convention center hotel are a large part of that he said along with the six other downtown hotel projects that will be on line by 2016. "The driving radius in this bid is significantly shorter much of that is due to the substantial hotel boom that's occurring downtown," he said.

While other cities like Columbus, Kansas City and Las Vegas have been very public in their push for the Republican convention, Cleveland has chosen to focus its attention on the bid itself and lining up the finances that will be needed.

"It's no small undertaking so our efforts were spent raising funds and really working on the technical assets of the bid because we've been through this before, particularly in 2008 and we understand the process a little bit better," Pinney said.

Of the eight cities that were expected to submit bids Wednesday, three of them Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati are in Ohio. While you might think that might split resources or backing Pinney said it was the opposite.

"It's gotten Cleveland's competitive juices flowing," he said. "The business community is engaged and has stepped up and a number of the large companies in town have already committed substantial funds, the host committee is formed, it's as impressive as a host committee as you can put together anywhere in the country. I think Columbus and Cincinnati competing have really helped us."

Pinney will be among the Ohio contingent making their way to Washington, D.C. Monday to make their case to the Republican National Committee who will likely name several cities as finalists by late March and visit those cities in April.

There is one potential road bump in Cleveland's pitch. The Republicans who will go first with their convention in 2016 and are looking to stage it in late June or July.

The trouble with that, as unlikely as it may seem to basketball fans today, is the possibility of the Cavaliers making a deep playoff run.

"If they go as early as June it causes some scheduling issues, let me put it that way, with the "Q," FitzGerald said, "because of requirements with the NBA."

It's a problem that would also likely face other NBA cities like Dallas and Denver expected to submit bids.

None of that though has been set in stone at this stage of the talks. "It would be better for us if it was in July," FitzGerald said.

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