CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Two cities are left fighting for the chance to host the Republican National Convention in 2020 - and one of them is the Queen City.
Charlotte and Las Vegas have been named the two finalists to potentially host the RNC, sources told WBTV Tuesday evening. In May, WBTV reported that Charlotte was reportedly one of seven cities to submit a formal bid to host the event or take some part in the bid process.
Members of the 2020 site selection committee announced to hundreds of RNC activists at the spring meeting in Miami that the seven original cities had been whittled down to "about three" strong contenders.
Those cities reportedly included Charlotte, Las Vegas and another unnamed city in Texas, which sources at the meeting said were likely either Dallas or San Antonio.
A delegation of roughly 20 members from the Republican National Committee were in Charlotte in late May as part of the committee's work to select a location to host the party's quadrennial confab ahead of the next presidential election.
A source told WBTV the group was hosted by Mayor Vi Lyles and NC Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes. The visit was also supported by business groups, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Charlotte Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
Among the places the site selection committee visited were the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the group had a private dinner overlooking the track; the NASCAR Hall of Fame; and the Spectrum Center and Convention Center, two facilities that would play a central role in hosting the event.
According to the source with knowledge of the visit, the city made a presentation detailing what went well and what did not work when Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012. That presentation also highlighted the number of new hotel rooms recently built and that are planned to be completed by 2020. The lack of hotel space was a major drawback in the 2012 DNC.
"Over the past three days, I have had the pleasure of working with Mayor Vi Lyles, her team, and a number of Charlotte officials making a presentation to the RNC Site Selection Committee," North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes told WBTV. "I could not be more proud of their efforts, professionalism, and hospitality. They and the CRVA have put on an all-star presentation highlighting the benefits of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and surrounding areas in the state of North Carolina."
"I look forward to the decision of the Site Selection Committee," Hayes continued. "Based on merit, I think we have a great chance of winning the competition."
Tom Murray is the CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) which has been leading the proposal to land the GOP convention in Charlotte.
He confirmed that the group looked at "key venues such as the Charlotte Convention Center and Spectrum Center in addition to meeting with leaders in our city and state's public and private sectors."
"We are committed to the possibility of hosting the convention and believe in the economic impact and strategic event value that it holds for our region, Murrary told WBTV. "The focus of their site visit was to explore Charlotte and evaluate its potential as a host city for the 2020 RNC. We supported that visit in every way possible by providing authentic hospitality, showcasing our city's infrastructure and giving them a glimpse of what makes Charlotte so special.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said that though the city's bid for the event is still being reviewed, his department is already thinking about a public safety plan.
"We're just making sure we get our minds on, and our eyes are on what's going on around the country," he said. "So we know the type of environment and the type of groups we're going to be dealing with"
If Charlotte is chosen, the department will use a blueprint from policing in 2012, but will alter it to fit today's political climate.
"Last time, it was people talking about being heard," he said. "This time it's, 'Let's be actually seen committing violence.' So we have to be able to keep people apart and diffuse situations and use good discretion."
In 2012, the city got nearly $50 million in federal funds and 3,000 additional officers to amp up security for the event.
The Republican Party is expected to officially between Charlotte and Las Vegas later this summer.