CINCINNATI: Ohio’s three largest cities have hopes of landing a Democratic or Republican national convention in 2016.
Officials in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati all figure that Ohio’s importance as a presidential swing state will help their cause. All three say they have good convention facilities, hotel space and transportation links needed to host such large conventions.
The Dayton Daily News reports that the capital city of Columbus has gotten an early jump in preparing to make a pitch for a convention, while Cincinnati is a latecomer in the competition.
Columbus officials say Nationwide Arena could be the convention site, with plenty of other facilities and hotels nearby.
“When you look at Tampa and Charlotte (the 2012 conventions’ host cities), our convention center is larger than both of their centers,” said Brian Ross, who leads Experience Columbus. “We have a very walkable destination. The proximity of our arena to our convention center is definitely a benefit of ours.”
Ohio’s Democratic Party and Republican Party leaders don’t agree on much, but both say they’d like to see the state host their conventions.
Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern said the cities will need private-sector support for their efforts — host cities will need to raise around $50 million for logistics, transportation and law enforcement around the conventions. He said all have local attractions that could draw convention participants.
“Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati all have enormous opportunities for nightlife and social events,” Redfern said. “The cities are very inviting.”
Republican chairman Matt Borges said he hopes a competition among three Ohio cities doesn’t hurt one another’s chances.
“I’m thrilled that we have two and probably three cities that are very seriously considering,” Borges said. “I think that we will end up with at least one and maybe two that go to the next step of trying to get a bid in.”
Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou said Cincinnati’s effort is still “embryonic” and may be a little late in the game. But southwest Ohio’s importance to Republicans, who look for big margins in the GOP-dominated suburbs to carry the state, could make it a strategic choice for the Republican convention.
He said U.S. Bank Arena would be a likely host spot for the convention.
While the presidential tickets usually make scores of campaign visits to Ohio every four years, the state hasn’t hosted a national party convention since Republicans met in Cleveland in 1936.