GOP site committee tours Sprint Center, Plaza on its full day here; locals claim $30 million raised to date

06/05/2014 2:40 PM

06/05/2014 4:11 PM

The GOP convention site selection committee was on the Plaza during the lunch hour, midway through its examination of Kansas City’s bid to host the 2016 gathering.

City officials say it’s going well. “They’re here to learn the ins and outs,” said Mayor Sly James. “This is a big deal for our city.”

The group left the Westin Crown Center after breakfast, traveling by bus to the Sprint Center.

The bus — carrying committee members, staff, and city officials — drove onto the floor of the arena. After a tour, members watched video footage of Ronald Reagan in 1976 and saw signs for the states had been installed on the floor.

At the end, convention organizers dropped 10,000 balloons onto the floor as a youngster (identified as 12-year old Olivia Sabates) sang “God Bless the U.S.A.,” always a GOP favorite.

James, convention task force organizer Troy Stremming, GOP chairman Reince Priebus, and site committee chairwoman Enid Mickelsen then met with reporters.

They made some news:

The city has raised $30 million for its bid, Stremming said, about half of what the city needs to raise for the event.

Priebus said the target date for the convention was either June 27 — his preference — or July 18. Kansas City would be the city most able to hold the gathering in June, “a nice little advantage” for the community, Priebus said.

The convention will last for four days. There had been some talk of shortening the sessions to three days.

After the news conference Priebus, Mickelsen, and James toured the College Basketball Experience, then walked across the street to look at the KC Live portion of the Power and Light District.

They left by motorcade and were expected to join other committee members at Gram and Dun, a restaurant on the Plaza.

After that, afternoon meetings at the Intercontinental — some free time — and tonight’s gala reception at the Performing Arts Center.

Other notes:

The committee did hear from former Vice President Dick Cheney Wednesday. Priebus said he met with Cheney Thursday morning, where the former veep expressed his preference for a Kansas City convention.

The committee stopped at Winstead’s Wednesday for hamburgers and skyscrapers. Apparently some of the treat dripped onto the chairwoman’s clothing, to general merriment.

And someone behind the bar at Temptations said she couldn’t explain why the “Totally Nude” sign had been covered. City officials say they don’t know why it happened, and convention organizers don’t either.

To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send email to dhelling@kcstar.com.

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