GOP Site Selection Committee guaging Denver's ability to host Republican National Convention

DENVER - The GOP’s Site Selection Committee will spend the next 48 hours in Denver, gauging the Mile High City’s ability to host the Republican National Convention.

Denver is one of four cities still under consideration.  It is competing with Cleveland, Kansas City and Dallas.

“We will show them a good time,” said Denver 2016 Chair Peter Coors. “But this is a business meeting.”

“I think Denver’s chances are quite good,” said University of Denver Political Science Professor Peter Hanson. “We obviously have a good track record of doing them. I think most people were satisfied with how the 2008 (Democratic) convention went.”

When asked what the political parties look for in a host city, Hanson told 7NEWS, “They look at logistics.  Is there enough hotel space? Is it centrally located?  Is there good transportation?”

Hanson also said they look at financing.

When asked why Denver appears to be lagging behind its competitors raising the funds necessary to host the convention, Coors said, “We’re ahead of our fundraising goal.”

He said other cities are using economic development funds to help with their bids.

“That’s tax money,” he said. “We’re not doing that. We’re raising it the hard old fashioned way, and that’s the way we intend to run the campaign.”

Coors said the local host committee promised the GOP that they would raise $10 million by September 2014. 

“We’ve raised $11 million so far,” he said, “so we’re ahead.  We anticipate raising 20-million.”

 Coors said the Mile High City has several advantages over its competitors. Great summer weather, great venues and an experienced team.

He noted the vibrancy of Denver’s downtown, which is within walking distance of the Pepsi Center and Coors Field, both of which might host convention activities.

When asked if the legalization of marijuana will help or hinder Colorado’s bid, Coors said the convention is still two years away and that marijuana likely would not play a big role.

Hanson says legalization doesn’t help.

“I can imagine that they are concerned about TV footage of their delegates visiting some of these stores, or just the image of the party coming to a state where marijuana is legal,” the professor said.

Dr. Norman Provizer, a political science professor at Metro State University noted that two of the cities bidding for the convention, Denver and Cleveland, are in swing states.

He said Colorado and Ohio are critical to both parties, “since there are so few swing states.”  He also noted that Ohio has twice the number of electoral votes as Colorado.

Provizer said it’s no coincidence that three Ohio cities were initially on the GOP’s list.  Columbus and Cincinnati have since been eliminated.

When asked about Dallas, Provizer said Texas is a strong GOP state, so other factors may be at play.  He suggested that immigration may play a role in the selection.

When asked about that, Coors noted that nearly 30 percent of Denver’s population is Hispanic.  He said immigration is an issue that is being dealt with locally and nationally.

“We’re in a perfect location to have that debate and we certainly hope by 2016 we’ll be having that in a very serious way,” he said.

State GOP Chair Ryan Call said the GOP has never had a national convention in the Rocky Mountain West.

“Horace Greeley encouraged people to ‘go west,’ and that’s what we’re doing,” Call said.

He said Denver has the infrastructure, transportation and experience to stage a successful convention.

“If you’ve ever been to downtown Cleveland or even downtown Dallas, downtown Denver certainly stands out on its own,” Call said.

The Site Selection Committee will review venues, hospitality, security and transportation options while in Denver.

The delegation also has meetings scheduled with city officials to discuss aspects of the bid for 2016. 

Hosting the RNC could give Denver a big economic boost. The 2008 Democratic convention brought in approximately $266 million to the city, according to one report.

If Denver is chosen to host the convention, Call told 7NEWS that the Pepsi Center will serve as the principal event site -- hosting key speeches and the nominating process. He added that Coors Field is the proposed site for a welcome reception.

The Colorado Convention Center would serve as an "expo" site, part of the "delegate experience," Call said.

A final decision is expected in August.

'Vote' for Denver on the GOP website:

http://www.gop.com/act/choose-the-city

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