CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) - When Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention six years ago, the local host committee was responsible for raising about $37 million – and fell short by $8 million.
The price for the 2020 Republican National Convention has increased significantly. Bid documents released by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority show that the Republicans expect the host city to raise between $68 million and $70 million. That's based on how much was needed for the 2016 RNC in Cleveland.
In a letter to the city in December, the Republican National Committee said the deadline for cities to apply was Feb. 28. But the CRVA said this week that deadline has been extended, and that Charlotte has not submitted its bid. The CRVA said it hasn't been told of a new deadline.
When Charlotte was negotiating with the DNC for the 2012, a provision in the original contract said the city or the CRVA would be responsible for any shortfalls that the host committee had in fundraising. The city pushed back against that guarantee, and it was removed from the final contract.
For that convention, the DNC placed restrictions on the host committee, which limited donations to $100,000. The RNC did not have similar restrictions in 2016, and there are no mention of restrictions for 2020.
The Charlotte host committee, co-chaired by former Duke Energy chief Jim Rogers, struggled to raise money. In the end, Duke shareholders had to cover a $6 million debt from the DNC.
Charlotte Democratic Mayor Vi Lyles, who supports the city's effort to land the RNC, said neither the city nor the CRVA would cover a shortfall.
"We won't be responsible for that," she said Friday.
But like the DNC, the city would be spending time and resources on the convention.
In its bid guidelines, the RNC listed facilities needed for the convention – such as an 18,000-seat arena; 40,000 square-feet of office space; up to 350,000 square feet of media work space; and parking for up to 2,500 cars.
It said all of those facilities would be provided to the RNC at "no charge." It also states that the host committee or the city must pay the entire convention's electric bill.
The DNC had a similar arrangement in 2012. It's also common in the convention business for the host city to offer its meeting space for free or at a steep discount.
The DNC was held at what was then the Time Warner Cable Arena. The media worked in the Charlotte Convention Center.
Other bid guidelines:
- The convention requires 2,500 seats on the convention floor. The seats must be upholstered and have upholstered arm rests. The RNC will determine the “color, size and type of the chairs.”
Leading up to the 2012 DNC, the CRVA offered to replace all of the seats inside the arena if the Democrats wanted. The CRVA didn't have to change the seats.
- New carpet must be installed in certain parts of the Spectrum Center, and the RNC will “determine the style, color and grade.”
- Sixteen months before the convention starts, five SUVs or vehicles will be made available to convention staff members. As the convention draws closer, more vehicles must be provided.
- The temperature inside the arena and convention spaces must be between 68 and 73 degrees, with no more than 50 percent indoor relative humidity. That’s actually more flexible than for the 2012 DNC, in which the arena could be no warmer than 72 degrees.
- The host committee must provide at least 7,000 volunteers.
- During the convention week, the RNC wants 16,000 “first-class hotel rooms,” including 1,000 one and two-bedroom suites. In addition, the RNC gets access to “all suites executive level and above.”
For the DNC, Charlotte struggled to find top-notch hotel rooms near uptown. Some delegates complained about the quality of some hotels or long bus rides.
The city does not have 16,000 hotel rooms uptown. There are about 5,000 hotel rooms in center city, though at least 1,000 new rooms under construction would be ready for the RNC.
Hosting a political convention is exhausting, and Charlotte declined to bid on he 2016 RNC. City officials said at the time they weren't ready to mount such an intense effort four years after the DNC.
But the city and CRVA said a national political convention provides an economic boost for the city. The CRVA said the DNC produced $91 million in direct spending in Charlotte.