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Kansas City survives the first cut in the GOP convention selection process

04/02/2014 12:57 PM

04/03/2014 7:45 AM

Kansas City’s ambitious campaign to land the 2016 Republican National Convention survived Wednesday to advance to another stage.

Shortly before noon, the chairwoman of the GOP site selection committee, Enid Mickelsen, called Mayor Sly James to tell him Kansas City’s convention bid was among six still on the table.

“She congratulated me,” he said. “I told her I was happier than she was.”

Eight cities began the day on the GOP’s list of potential convention sites. Two of those cities — Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio — were eliminated from consideration by the nine-member site selection committee Wednesday morning.

That leaves six bidding cities: Kansas City, Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

“These six cities have shown they have what it takes to move forward,” Mickelsen said in a statement released by the Republican National Committee.

James and others connected with Kansas City’s proposal have long been confident they would survive the first cut of convention cities. On Wednesday, they said the selection shows they’ve met or exceeded the GOP’s minimum requirements for meeting space, transportation, housing and fundraising.

They also believe an available Sprint Center and a nearby entertainment district enhanced the city’s offer.

“We have great facilities,” said Jon Stephens of the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association. “We’re situated very well for conventions and special events.”

At the same time, he said, work remains.

The Republican party will now send staff members and technicians to Kansas City in late April or early May to examine potential convention venues. Similar visits will be made to the other five communities.

Then, in mid-May, the GOP is expected to pare the list again. After that, site selection committee members will visit the remaining cities — and a third elimination round may follow.

By late summer, though, the party is expected to pick its convention city.

James said Kansas City would not try to sweeten its offer before the site visits.

“I don’t think there’s any need to do anything, other than to present the city and the technical aspects of our package,” James said.

Those requirements — such as close-in hotel rooms and transportation — are among the most important part of a city’s offer.

But politics will play a role. And money.

Dallas officials claim they’ve already raised $41 million of the estimated $50 million to $60 million the host committee will be expected to provide the convention.

“We have several powerful billionaire figures supporting our bid,” said Dallas committee CEO Phillip Jones.

Las Vegas is reportedly leaning on gaming billionaire Sheldon Adelson to bankroll its effort.

“Sheldon wants it,” said former Nevada Gov. Bob List, a senior adviser to the Las Vegas bid. “It’s a business proposition. A city wanting this convention is going to need real money behind it.”

James said Kansas City’s financing will be in place.

Representatives of Phoenix and Columbus said they were disappointed at the outcome. Ohio Republicans said they weren’t surprised, though, that one of the three bidding cities in their state was taken from the list.

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