COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Columbus wants to make a pitch to get one of the major political conventions in 2016.
The conventions can draw 45,000 people, including more than 15,000 reporters, to a host city. The economic impact can be $150 million to $200 million..
“It is time for the world to see the great city we’ve built, and there is no better way to show it off than to host one of our nation’s presidential nominating conventions,” said Mayor Michael Coleman.
An exploratory group, Columbus 2016, includes representatives from the city, Columbus Partnership, Ohio Republican and Democratic Parties and Experience Columbus. Members of the organizations met over the past several months to look at what it takes to compete for the nation’s largest and most watched conventions.
“These are among the world’s greatest conventions and we are going to make sure that national leaders know that Columbus is ready to host their events and make it fun for delegates,” said Brian Ross, President and CEO of Experience Columbus. “We’ve built an excellent hospitality industry, with hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, new parks and more, but the real key is our welcoming spirit and winning attitude.”
Cities across the country will compete, once the national parties issue requests for proposals in the coming months. Columbus will review both those requests from both parties and consider if one or both fit in the area’s hotel, convention center, arena and event space package.
Cincinnati hosted the 1856 Democratic National Convention and the 1876 Republican National Convention. Cleveland played host to Republicans in 1924 and 1936. Both cities could be in the running again along with Columbus.
“Ohio hasn’t hosted a national convention in nearly 80 years, and we’ve never seen one in Columbus,” said Matt Borges, Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. “Central Ohio continues to be a major battleground during presidential campaigns.”
In the coming months, a formal Columbus 2016 Host Committee will be appointed, representing a diverse array of local leaders from business, government, the arts, colleges, universities and community groups. This group will work with Experience Columbus to draft a formal bid, apply, and, if Columbus makes the short list, host tours for the national site selection committees.
“Columbus is a city that loves to compete and we all love welcoming presidential and vice presidential candidates during an election year,” said Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chair. “We are proud to see Ohio’s cities stepping up as important destinations along the road to the White House.”
The selection process for both parties will go through the middle of 2014. As part of Columbus’ advocacy, local leaders will attend events with the DNC and RNC at various times in Washington, D.C. and other cities to meet the delegates and the leaders who vote on the site selection committees.
“We are collaborating to build Columbus’ brand and show off the region’s assets to the world. There is no doubt that events such as a national political convention can have a major economic impact on area businesses,” said Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership.
(Graphic by Getty Images/Clear Channel Columbus)