Lynx Blue Line Extension serves as attractive asset to lure 2020 RNC

Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 11:27 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As Charlotte waits to see if she will host the 2020 Republican National Convention, one major asset is making the city that much more appealing.

Reports state that Charlotte is competing against Las Vegas for the event and the decision is expected to come mid-July.

However, Charlotte added the Blue Line Extension since when the Democratic National Convention was hosted in the city in 2012. That light rail system and extension have spurred economic development up and down the rail line.

"They liked what they saw when they were here in 2012 and we have grown exponentially since then," Gregg Phipps, who is a Charlotte city councilman, said.

FULL COVERAGE: Click here for full coverage of Charlotte's bid for the 2020 RNC

Phipps chairs the Transportation committee for the city of Charlotte. He says the biggest change to the city since the DNC is the addition of the rail line to serve north Charlotte and the University City area.

"It allows venues to expand into the Northeast," said Phipps.

What that means is that if the RNC does come to town, then there will more places to put people which was a problem in 2012.

Both CATS and Charlotte Center City Partners declined an interview request because the official announcement has not been made, but WBTV interviewed CEO Michael Smith several months ago.

"Any hotels that are built along the Blue Line are convention center hotels because you have a direct connect," said Michael Smith, who is the president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners in an interview earlier this year.

According to Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority, there are more than 3,500 hotels in the University City area and close to 2,000 hotels are under construction, planned or have recently been built along the Lynx Blue Line Extension. These numbers don't include the thousands of rooms in uptown Charlotte.

"Some smaller hotels are being placed there. Another major hotel and conference center is being planned," said Phipps.

So, when organizers are looking at the cities at capacity to host, uptown Charlotte's footprint spreads far beyond the skyscrapers.

"Anywhere from 22 to 25 minutes. You are from the Charlotte Main Station to the 7th Street station," said Phipps. He admits that much work still needs to be done to the light rail system to make Charlotte competitive with other major cities.

"We really need some more east/west connection. Get a real transportation hub," said Phipps.

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