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KC group works on bid for GOP convention in 2016

Could the GOP be headed to KC in 2016?

Nearly 40 years after city officials worked to bring the Republican National Convention to Kemper Arena, a small group of party consultants and convention organizers is quietly assembling a new proposal to bring the Republican Party to the Kansas City area in 2016.

The so far unofficial committee has designed a logo, consulted with attorneys and worked on a bid package for eventual submission to the Republican National Committee later this year.

“We’re getting great response,” said political consultant Cathy Nugent, who is part of the unofficial group.

The Republican National Committee is expected to outline specifications for potential host cities in late 2013, then decide on a site in 2014.

Kansas City’s bid would likely include meeting sites in Kansas and Missouri, Nugent said.

No one knows how much the area might be asked to contribute to convention expenses, although the cost could run into the millions of dollars. Committee members hope to raise much of that privately.

They are also discussing transportation, housing and security issues. The main convention sessions would probably be held at the Sprint Center.

A local convention effort has a certain nostalgic appeal — the 1976 Republican gathering here featured a legendary showdown between President Gerald Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan — but the area’s effort is likely a long shot.

Other cities expressing some interest include Phoenix; Columbus, Ohio; and Charlotte, N.C. All are in states considered more presidentially competitive than Kansas or Missouri.

But Kansas City enjoys some advantages, such as its Central time zone and easy access from almost all parts of the country. St. Louis narrowly lost a bid for the 2012 Democratic convention and may bid again for 2016.

The Kansas City committee is unlikely to pursue the Democratic convention. That would require housing for substantially more delegates than the Republicans, and the area may lack enough hotel space.

Nugent said she expects the convention date to move up to June or July instead of late August. And it’s widely expected both parties will shrink their gatherings from four days to three.

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