Charlotte submits bid to host 2020 Republican National Convention

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The city of Charlotte has submitted a proposal to host the Republican National Convention in 2020.

The official proposal comes more than six weeks after Charlotte city leaders announced they were "evaluating options" for the convention. The first step is to submit a proposal "highlighting all that Charlotte has to offer as a convention destination," which was spearheaded by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA).

"Charlotte has officially submitted a bid for the 2020 Republican National Convention. We're incredibly grateful for the support and assistance of our many City of Charlotte partners, hotels, venues and others who helped to craft this thorough response on behalf of our region," CRVA CEO Tom Murray told WBTV. "We look forward to what this competitive process brings as the RNC assesses submissions from other prospective hosts and will assist their team with any additional information requests they may ask for during this evaluation phase."

"We believe in hosting strategic events such as this one since they not only generate substantial economic impact, but also create extensive awareness for our destination by putting us on a national stage," Murray continued.

Months in the making

When the bid process was initially announced in mid-February, the submission was due by Feb. 28, but the deadline was extended for potential host cities. Charlotte Mayor Vi 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," 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."

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NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes says the bid has brought people from all sides together.

"The most exciting part of this bid process is how Republicans, Democrats and the business community are coming together to make a strong bid," Hayes said. "The City of Charlotte has fully embraced this effort."

"Charlotte was clearly an outstanding host for our Democrat friends in 2012," Hayes said. "With that said, no city can stage such a massive event without having some lessons learned. In essence, Charlotte has staged a 200 million dollar 'dry run' that can provide critical knowledge in crafting an outstanding world-class event."

What's in the proposal?

Officials with the CRVA say the proposal with Charlotte's bid to host the Republican National Convention will not be released to the media because the city will be in a competition to land the convention.

Hayes previously told WBTV the proposal would highlight some strengths which he says are unique to Charlotte, including strong community support from both sides of the aisle, an easy access airport and a strong base of Republican volunteers within two hours of Charlotte, including South Carolina.

The proposal was expected to also highlight the city's improving infrastructure with new hotels since the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

"We have tough competition and only one city can win out," Hayes said. "However, we are well positioned due to the bipartisan community efforts and we like our chances."

Officials from the National GOP have not been able to comment on the bidding process for the Republican National Convention, including the new deadline for proposals or how many other cities are in the running to host.

RNC not a lock for the Queen City

Pat McCrory, who has previously held office as mayor of Charlotte and Governor of North Carolina, says hosting the convention for the Republican Party isn't a lock for the Queen City.

"The RNC is going to try to get as many bidders as possible so that they can play fodder," McCrory told WBTV's Steve Crump. "Column fodder against each other and get some competition. That's beneficial to the RNC."

Pitting one city against another is the way political conventions are brokered.

So what new does Charlotte have to offer that's new since the end of the Democratic National Convention? We put that question to Michael Smith of Center City Partners.

"We've added a thousand hotel rooms [since the 2012 convention]," Smith said. "There's another 2,500 that are in planning or under construction."

Smith also cites the expansion of the Lynx Blue Line as a driver to attract more big time events to town.

"It's a big opportunity for our city to welcome thought leaders to welcome corporate leaders. Our thought is always we can convert that into more investment and more jobs," Smith said.

While landing the convention is viewed as good for the city, McCrory sees a different motive based on our state's political landscape.

"It's a red Blue State where the presidential election could be determined by how North Carolina goes," he said.

Economic impact expectations

Republicans expect the host city to raise between $68 million and $70 million, according to bid documents released by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The number is based on how much was needed for the 2016 RNC in Cleveland.

The Republican National Committee estimates the convention in Cleveland brought an estimated 48,000 attendees and around $188.4M to the area. The 2012 Republican National Convention, held in Tampa, brought in 50,000 attendees and had an economic impact of $183.6M.

Lyles hopes landing the upcoming Republican convention would have an economic impact that would exceed $100 million.

"What we believe is a very competitive bid has been submitted," said Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party. "The process is long and winding at this point but we believe Charlotte is well positioned with a strong bipartisan community-based bid."

Charlotte 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.

In 2012, the DNC placed restrictions on the host committee, which limited donations to $100,000. The RNC did not have those restrictions in 2016, and there has been no mention of restrictions for 2020.

'Basic Requirements for Convention'

The RNC listed facilities needed for the convention in its guidelines, including an 18,000-seat arena, 40,000 square-feet of office space, up to 350,000 square feet of media workspace, and parking for up to 2,500 cars.

The facilities are expected to be provided to the RNC at "no charge."  The host must also pay the entire convention's electric bill. A similar arrangement was in place for the DNC in 2012, which was held at what was then the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Charlotte struggled to find top-notch hotel rooms near uptown for the DNC. Some delegates complained about long bus rides and the quality of some hotels.

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.

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 as well as the biggest cities in the world.

Here are some other bid guidelines:

  • The convention requires 2,500 seats on the convention floor. The seats must be upholstered and have upholstered armrests. The RNC will determine the “color, size and type of the chairs.”
  • 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.”

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