City of Charlotte working on bid to host 2020 Republican National Convention

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The City of Charlotte announced Thursday that it is "evaluating options" to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Officials say the first step in submitting a proposal "highlighting all that Charlotte has to offer as a convention destination."

"This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our city, our region and our state to the world," said Mayor Vi Lyles.

Lyles says the Republican National Committee sent a letter back in December to Charlotte and other cities suggesting the city bid to host the 2020 Convention.

The document, which Lyles says is "about an inch thick," and entails how the city would host the convention, how it would house all the attendees and how the city can ensure the safety for "an event of this magnitude."

"We will have the opportunity to have the city showcased on the media for two to three days," Lyles said in an interview with WBTV. "I think that that is really good for growing our economy, giving our children a chance to learn about our democratic process and as well the opportunity for our hospitality industries to really earn the respect of the industry and make the opportunity for many people to work and earn income."

She hopes landing the 2020 convention would have an economic impact that would exceed $100 million.

"I think since we've done it once we've learned some great lessons and we could do it even better," Lyles said.

The Queen City hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012, drawing about 35,000 delegates, media, and visitors. According to officials, it was the largest event in the city's history with an economic impact of more than $163 million.

The Republican National Committee estimates the 2016 Republican National Convention, held in Cleveland, brought an estimated 48,000 attendees and brought an estimated $188.4M to Cleveland. The 2012 Republican National Convention, held in a weather-bashed Tampa, brought in 50,000 attendees and head an economic impact of $183.6M.

Shortly after the city's announcement, Mecklenburg County Republican Party Chairman Chris Turner said the local party would offer "its full support in the City of Charlotte's upcoming formal bid."

"We are excited to see the City and its Partners come together to submit this proposal.  Charlotte and the surrounding communities have proven our ability to manage major events like this," said MeckGOP Chairman Chris Turner. "This event would bring a national spotlight to our City and region and is a perfect place for Republican leaders and supporters to celebrate the great progress our Country has made since 2016."

Turner says Charlotte hosted hundreds of thousands of convention attendees in 2017 alone and says the city "proved a successful host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention."

"With more than 45,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the uptown Convention Center, Charlotte is primed to play host to the national political scene once again," Turner added.

The MeckGOP thanked Senator Thom Tillis and Councilman Ed Driggs for "their Republican leadership in driving this response from the City."

WBTV reached out to Sen. Tillis who said he was excited that the city was exploring the bid.

"I'm excited that Mayor Lyles and the city of Charlotte are evaluating the Request For Proposal criteria involved in submitting a bid for the 2020 Republican National Convention," Sen. Tillis said. "When I was North Carolina Speaker, I worked to help bring the Democratic National Convention to Charlotte in 2012, a convention that proved be an economic success for the city and state. I will work with Mayor Lyles and the city to assist in any way I can."

"Without the support [of Senators Tillis and Richard Burr], we would just be another community in this political landscape. but what they've done is they've come and said 'Charlotte is capable. Look at our past success and build on it'," Lyles said.

"Regardless of your political affiliation, this would be a major win for the County, our region and North Carolina," Turner added.

He spoke to WBTV in an interview Thursday evening. He thinks that North Carolina being a battleground state could make Charlotte an attractive location for the convention.

"We are a state that is up for grabs each year. We've seen it turn red, then blue, then red again in the last election and there's gonna be a heavy fight for this," said Turner.

Lyles was asked Thursday if she would be worried about President Trump bringing a divisive crowd to the city if Charlotte were awarded the RNC.

"What you have to be as mayor is a mayor for everyone and what we're doing is showcasing our city. We'll let the Republicans handle all the politics of it," said Lyles.

The proposal to host the RNC is due at the end of February and is being spearheaded by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

CRVA CEO Tom Murray says the city is expected to have more than 6,000 hotel rooms in uptown Charlotte by the time the convention would be held.
He says the convention will also bring "major decision makers" who could see that Charlotte is a good place to bring their business.

"People in parts of the world and parts of our country that don't normally hear about Charlotte will hear about Charlotte for the first time," Murray said about the potential national and international spotlight Charlotte would get in the media. "We know that when people see our city they are just amazed by how beautiful it is."

Murray says the city's ability to host two national conventions, a PGA Championship and the NBA All-Star game would prove that Charlotte can host major events along as well as the biggest cities in the world.

"What's unique about [Charlotte] is that those events don't get lost in our city," he said. "Our city becomes all about those big events."

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