Cincinnati out of running as 2016 GOP convention site

May 22, 2014

Cincinnati Republicans learned this afternoon they would not be chosen as a finalist for the 2016 Republican National Convention, so they formally withdrew their bid.

Cincinnati was one of six cities on a list of potential GOP convention sites.

"Prior to the site selection committee vote, Cincinnati respectfully withdrew their bid from the process, based on the criteria set forth by the RNC for the main arena,'' the Republican National Committee (RNC) said in a press release.

By that, the RNC means that Cincinnati's proposed venue for the convention, US Bank Arena, was deemed inadequate.

Las Vegas, the RNC said, also withdrew its bid for similar reasons.

That leaves Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City as the remaining candidates.

"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,'' said site selection committee chair Enid Mickelsen in a written statement. "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."

The convention could have pumped about $200 million into the local economy and brought about 50,000 conventioneers into the city.

Cincinnati had proposed using US Bank Arena as the venue for the convention. A source told WVXU that the arena was deemed by the site selection committee as being inadequate for the convention's needs.

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a member of the Cincy2016 committee, said the privately-owned US Bank Arena needs about $20 million in updates.

"We got a long way toward landing the convention, but we need to do some work related to the arena,'' Hartmann said. There was not enough time to accomplish that by the time of the convention.

Local Republican Party leaders, along with Dan Lincoln of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern, headed up Cincy2016. But they had support from local Democrats as well, including Mayor John Cranley, Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke and Vice Mayor David Mann.

In a written statement, Barrett, speaking on behalf of Cincy2016, said the group is "disappointed that Cincinnati wasn't able to continue to the next round but we're so proud we had an opportunity to participate in this very competitive process."

"It may not be our time to host the convention in 2016, but I'm confident - especially with the groundwork that has been laid in this process - that we'll have that opportunity in the future,'' Barrett said.

"It's disappointing, but I am ready to do it again,'' said Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party and one of the leaders of Cincy2016. "The next time, we will need to get an earlier start on this. And if this starts a community conversation on US Bank Arena, that's a good thing."

On April 29, an eight-member delegation spent the day in Cincinnati for an initial site visit. Cincy2016 members gave the delegation a breakfast at the Metropolitan Club, a tour of US Bank Arena, the Cincinnati Convention Center and downtown hotels.

The delegation was also briefed by local leaders on the technical aspects of staging a convention – security, transportation, and whether or not Cincy2016 could raise approximately $50 million to host the convention.

If Cincinnati had been chosen as a finalist, the full 17-member RNC site selection committee would have come here in early to mid-June for a final inspection of the city.

The final selection of the RNC will come in the late summer or early fall, according to RNC officials.

In Cleveland, officials were jubilant about making the cut.

"Today's announcement offers further proof of the enormous progress we have made here in Cleveland and across all of Northeast Ohio,'' said Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive who is also the Democratic candidate for governor this year. "There is no doubt our city's renaissance is fully underway."