CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Members of Charlotte's host committee could be in the nation's capital as soon as the end of the month in an effort to land Charlotte as the host city for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
"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 on April 3. "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."
The question has been - so what is the next step for the city? The national Republican Party will not speak on the record about the next steps for landing the RNC, saying it will not comment on the proposal process.
Charlotte Councilman Ed Driggs says members of Charlotte's host city committee could be in Washington, D.C. as early as the end of April for an oral presentation to the selection committee.
"I think what you'll see happen next is the presentation in Washington, probably late this month. Then, there will be site visits," Driggs told WBTV's Steve Crump Tuesday. "We're very hopeful to be one of those and that will probably be in May."
Councilman Driggs was thanked by the Mecklenburg County Republican Party for his "Republican leadership in driving this response from the City," when the announcement was made that the city was pursuing a bid.
"I think we have a very strong proposal that we have submitted. It spells all that out in great detail; hotel rooms, security, power supply," Driggs said. "Of course, we tell the story about the Democratic Convention and how we've already done this, unlike many cities. I think we're in a very competitive position."
What's in the proposal?
Officials with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (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.
The CRVA headed up the bidding process for the Republican National Convention, which is a different process than when the city submitted to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. During that process, the bulk of the proposal was handled out of the city attorney's office and the council had a greater hand in the dealings.
"I think the CRVA worked very hard to get all the mechanics right, to make sure that we were very responsive to each item in the request for proposal that we got from the Site Selection Committee," Driggs told WBTV Tuesday.
Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles told WBTV in February that the proposal was "about an inch thick" and needed to entail 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."
NCGOP Chairman Robin 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.
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."
Former city councilman Edwin Peacock echoed Hayes' statement calling the chance to host the Republican National Convention "another pivotal moment in Charlotte's history" saying everyone needed to get 100% behind the effort.
"Proper planning is critical to pulling this off," former Charlotte City Councilman Edwin Peacock said. "And we've got a real history of doing that really well."
Does Charlotte have a chance?
Hayes said Charlotte was an "outstanding host for our Democrat friends in 2012," but says the city learned some lessons when staging such a massive event.
"In essence, Charlotte has staged a 200 million dollar 'dry run' that can provide critical knowledge in crafting an outstanding world-class event," Hayes said about the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Driggs agrees that the city has the added benefit of recently hosting the DNC.
"There are some differences in the RNC; working with Republican leaders to make sure we have the right message for the party," Driggs added. "But, I think it's a combination of the advantages of Charlotte, the past track record and the wide base of support that we have from leaders in the community."
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.
The national party isn't doling out details on that, either, saying it won't publicly announce which cities were initially asked to submit proposals or which cities fill out proposals. There was an "Interested Cities Day" in Washington, D.C. in January and the CRVA sent the VP of Sales to that meeting, according to WBTV's Amanda Foster.
"We don't really know who else is in the mix or what that short list process looks like," Driggs said Tuesday. "We just know what our steps are."
Economic impact expectations
Republicans expect the host city to raise between $68 million and $70 million, according to the request for proposal 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.
The 2012 Democratic National Convention drew about 35,000 delegates, media, and visitors to Charlotte. According to officials, it was the largest event in the city's history with an economic impact of more than $163 million.
That year 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.”