Cleveland's pitch to host the 2016 Republican Convention makes Cuyahoga Co. electoral heart of Ohio

No county cast as many votes in 2012 as Cuyahoga


UPDATE: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced Thursday morning Cleveland is one of eight cities to move to the next phase of consideration to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The theme of Cleveland's 2016 Republican National Convention pitch is simple, "Start here. Finish here."

The new website promoting the pitch went online Wednesday the day the city's 300 page bid arrived in the hands of the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

The web page pointing out that in 2012 no county in Ohio cast as many votes as Cuyahoga County and that a swing of just 15 percent of the county vote in favor of Mitt Romney would have delivered him the state. "The 2016 Republican Convention presents an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of Ohioans early," the site reads.

You won't find videos pitching the city like the ones posted for others like Kansas City, Las Vegas, Denver and Phoenix. Positively Cleveland President Dave Gilbert said having been down this road before their focus was on meeting the requirements in the bid, not the show surrounding it.

"The websites they're important, the videos are important but ultimately for us this is about substance," said Gilbert. "You have to have the steak before you have the sizzle."

And the steak for Cleveland is in the bones of the city, the infrastructure, the transportation, the new convention center and above all the downtown hotel boom.

By the time the convention rolls around in 2016 downtown will have close to 5,000 hotel rooms. "Which will be an increase of about 50 percent," said Gilbert.

600 of those rooms will be in the new convention center hotel that will soon go up on the site of the old county administration building, that hotel is scheduled to be completed in spring 2016.

"What they look for in the bid is 16,000 that they would use but where we have 16,000 is much closer to the center of the city than what it was eight years ago," said Gilbert. "90 percent of the roooms are really within 30-35 minutes so we have a very good package in that regard."

The Republicans have stated they'd like to stage the convention earlier, either in late June or early July. That presents a scheduling conflict with Quicken Loans Arena which has a contractual obligation to be prepared should the Cavaliers make a playoff run into the NBA Finals.

It's a problem that would also affect bids by other NBA cities like Phoenix, Denver and Dallas as well as Columbus with its NHL obligations.

"From what we know the RNC is very aware of the issue, what they have put out there is a window of time for which they would hold the convention and if you look at when the potential game seven of when the NBA Finals is and the outside of the window that the RNC would like to have the convention, we think we're still in pretty good shape," Gilbert said.

"And that's only if you're in an NBA Finals and you happened to go to a game seven in your home. We actually did a calculation of that, it's less than a one percent chance that any NBA team would be in a game seven in the NBA Finals  in their home arena so we think we're in pretty good shape."

Gilbert will be among the Cleveland contingent making the trip to Washington for the pitch to the RNC on March 3, there are no specifics on who will be joining him.

"Still finalizing the list but it is a great group of people from public sector, private sector, civic sector. We really have tremendous support from leadership throughout the community behind us and I think that's something that's going to speak very loud and clear to the RNC," he said.

After Monday's presentation the RNC will visit selected sites in late spring with a host city named likely around August.

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