Site Selection 2004 

Republicans (Convention Monday Aug. 30 to Thursday Sept. 2, 2004).
"Republicans look forward to finding the best city to both meet our convention needs and help showcase our inclusive and positive agenda for America."
-RNC Deputy Chairman Jack Oliver

The Republican National Committee considered three cities to host the 2004 Republican National
Convention: New Orleans, New York and Tampa-St. Petersburg (bids from Boston and Miami were put "under review.")  Compared to the Democrats and their 40-person committee, the RNC's effort was low key; members of the nine-person Site Selection Committee followed ethics guidelines which limited the amount of gift-giving and entertaining.  Ultimately the White House had the final say in the selection of the convention site. 

Among the minimum requirements outlined in the RFP, sent out on March 18, 2002 to 24 cities, were a convention facility capable of seating at least 20,000 persons and at least 20,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 suites.  The deadline for submitting proposals was June 17, 2002.  Of the two dozen cities invited to bid, five submitted proposals: Boston, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Tampa-St. Petersburg.  A month later, on July 17, chairwoman Williams announced the Committee would visit New Orleans, New York and Tampa-St. Petersburg during the week of August 4, and would continue to review the Boston and Miami bids. 

Republican Site Selection Timeline

  • Jan. 18, 2002     New RNC chair Marc Racicot appoints Ellen Williams, state chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky, as chairman of the Site Selection Committee; the four regional associations of the RNC each elect two more members for a total of nine.
  • March 19, 2002     RNC presents request for proposals to 24 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Tampa.
  • April 19, 2002     Initial meeting of Site Selection Committee during RNC state chairmen's meeting in New Orleans.
  • May 1, 2002     Site Selection Committee meets in Washington, DC; opportunity for cities to bring up and clarify any concerns with the RFP.  Nine cities hold individual meetings of up to 1 1/2 hours long each with the Site Selection Committee (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville, Miami, Charlotte, New Orleans, Orlando, New York, and Tampa-St. Petersburg).  RNC announces three-week window when it will hold the convention--weeks beginning Aug. 23, Aug. 30, or Sept. 6, 2004.  [Republicans must weigh into their calculations the fact that the 2004 Summer Olympic Games will be held in Athens, Greece from Aug. 13-29, 2004].
  • May 21, 2002    RNC announces its convention will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2004.  [This will be the latest a Republican National Convention has ever been held.  From the first Republican convention in 1856 through the 1948 convention, the party generally met in June; since then the gatherings have occured in July or August, with the 1956 (Eisenhower re-nomination) and 1984 (Reagan re-nomination) conventions being the latest, from Aug. 20-23).
  • no later than June 17, 2002     Proposals must be submitted to the RNC Counsel's Office.  Cities submitting bids are: Boston, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Tampa-St. Petersburg.  Representatives from Tampa-St. Petersburg (led by Tampa Mayor Dick Greco), New York (led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg), and Miami presented their cities bids in person at RNC headquarters on June 17.
  • mid-summer 2002    Site Selection Committee reviews proposals.
  • July 17, 2002   Site Selection Committee meets in San Francisco during RNC summer meeting.  Committee chairwoman Ellen Williams announces the Committee will visit New Orleans, New York and Tampa-St. Petersburg during the week of August 4, and will continue to review the Boston and Miami bids. 
  • August 4-6, 2002    Site Selection committee visits New Orleans.
  • August 6-8, 2002    Site Selection Committee visits Tampa-St. Petersburg. 
  • August 8-10, 2002    Site Selection Committee visits New York City. 
  • after Election Day, Nov. 5, to end of year, Dec. 31, 2002       Site Selection Committee reaches final decision.
  • no later than Feb. 1, 2003    RNC members approve final selection at the party's Winter Meeting, Jan. 29-Feb. 1.

Site Selection Committee (9 people total; announced Jan. 18, 2002)
Chair:  Ellen Williams, state chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky
Rosie Tripp   National Committeewoman for New Mexico     Western Region
Solomon Yue   National Committeeman for Oregon
Mary Jean Jensen   National Committeewoman for South Dakota     Midwestern Region
Chuck Yob   National Committeeman for Michigan 
Jo McKenzie   National Committeewoman for Connecticut    Northeastern Region
Ron Kaufman   National Committeeman for Massachusetts 
Carolyn Meadows   National Committeewoman for Georgia     Southern Region
Tim Lambert    National Committeeman for Texas

Cities That Submitted Proposals But Did Not Get Site Visits
Boston, MA--(Also seeking to host the Democratic Convention).  Boston would be a most interesting site to host a Republican convention.  States do not come much more Democratic than Massachusetts.  All 12 members of the congressional delegation are Democrats, as is Mayor Thomas M. Menino, first elected in November 1993 and re-elected in 1997 and 2001.  Just 32.5 percent of voters backed Bush/Cheney in November 2000 (only in RI and DC did the Republican ticket score lower).  Holding the GOP convention in the heart of Democratic territory could set the stage for energetic demonstrations; party planners will certainly have to be reassured that this would not be a problem.  Despite its rich history, Boston has never held a major party nominating convention.  City proponents point out that Boston is 6th largest media market in the country.  Further, the New England states of New Hampshire and Maine were closely fought in 2000.  Boston hosted the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, 2000.  The city also bid for the 2000 Democratic convention and was, along with Denver and Los Angeles, one of the final three contenders.  According to the 2000 Census, the primary Boston area has a population of 3.4 million, while the broader consolidated area, extending into NH, ME and CT, has a population of 5.8 million (seventh biggest). 
City of Boston  |  Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau  |  Boston 04

Miami, FL--(Also seeking to host the Democratic Convention).  Florida's 27 electoral votes are certain to be closely contested in 2004, and a Miami convention could provide a bit of a boost here as well as in the broader South.  On the other hand, a Florida convention might lend itself to a re-hashing of the 2000 election, something Republicans may wish to avoid.  Miami Beach hosted the 1968 and 1972 Republican conventions and the 1972 Democratic convention.  Miami was one of nine cities that sought to host the 2000 Democratic convention.  According to the 2000 Census, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale consolidated metropolitan area has a population of 3.9 million (12th biggest metropolitan area), and the primary Miami area is home to 2.3 million people.  Alex Penelas (D) was elected Executive Mayor of Miami-Dade County in October 1996 and re-elected in September 2000. 
Miami-Dade County  |  Miami and the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

Cities That Took Themselves Out of the Running
Kansas City, MO--Wayne Chappell, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City, ruled out a bid in a March 28, 2002 article by Rick Alm in the Kansas City Star.  He cited the lack of sufficient hotel rooms as the primary reason.

Minneapolis, MN (w/ St. Paul, MN)--In an April 8, 2002 letter to RNC deputy chairman Jack Oliver and site selection committee chair Ellen Williams, Greg D. Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association, stated, "After reviewing the RFP, our 2004 convention calendar, conversations with civic and political leaders and the costs for bidding the convention, as well as hosting it, we have determined that 2004 is not the year for Minneapolis and the Twin Cities to extend an invitation to the Republican National Convention."  Ortale elaborated [May 2002 phone message], "It's very expensive to bid for the national political conventions, and so long as we have an independent governor [Jesse Ventura] with the prominence that he has, it is unlikely that we would ever be seriously considered...  A bid will cost you anywhere from a quarter to a half a million dollars.  And so why go to that expense if there is no chance to secure either of the events."

St. Louis, MO--J. Kim Tucci, chairman of the St. Louis Convention & Vistors Commission, ruled out a bid in an April 10, 2002 letter to RNC chairman Marc Racicot.  He wrote, "Although we would love to see St. Louis showcased on a national level, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) cannot, at this time, afford the investment required to host a political convention.  This is a financial decision based on our analysis which shows the taxpayers' cost of staging and bidding on the convention is upwards of $15 million, more than the CVC's entire annual budget."  Tucci further pointed to an operating deficit at the America's Center convention complex, major events in 2003 and 2005, and existing business which would have to be displaced.

Atlanta, GA--Ruling out hosting either the Democratic or Republican convention, Mayor Shirley Franklin stated on April 12, 2002 that hosting a such  a convention "would displace several large groups that have already made their plans.  It would not be fair to ask them to find alternate locations."

Houston, TX--In an April 12, 2002 news release Mayor Lee P. Brown ruled out hosting either the Democratic or Republican convention, citing ongoing redevelopment and major events to be held in the next couple of years, as well as the city's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  He stated that "it is important for our city's leaders to focus on completing all that we have undertaken."

Chicago, IL--Ruled out bid in an April 15, 2002 letter.  Deputy press secretary Julian Green summed up the City's rationale, "The Mayor feels that we should give other cities the chance to capture the same kind of publicity that the 1996 convention generated for Chicago."

San Antonio, TX--A representative of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau stated [May 2002 e-mail], "Due to other convention commitments in 2004, San Antonio will not have the availability required for a national political convention, and therefore has declined an invitation to bid." 

Dallas, TX--Crayton Webb, spokesperson for Mayor Laura Miller, stated in a May 1, 2002 Associated Press article in the Star Telegram, "At this point, the mayor has not been terribly motivated to pursue it," Webb said. "The mayor feels like there are other things we want to tackle that play a higher priority for the citizens of Dallas and the city at large."  In a phone interview [May 2002], Webb cited "'the time and money compared to other vital projects that are currently facing the city of Dallas."  He listed as priorities "the Trinity River Project, the revitalization of downtown Dallas, consideration of a pay raise for police and fire fighters, and an upcoming bond program that could help improve our streets and upgrade our city parks."

Detroit, MI--Spokesperson Shannon McCarthy stated [May 2002 phone message], "We have bid on the Democratic National Convention...  We're aggressively pursuing that.  Detroit is a Democratic town and that's where we are focusing our energies."

Seattle, WA--Marianne Bichsel, Mayor Greg Nickels' spokesperson stated [May 2002 phone message], "The reason we are not pursuing the Republican National Convention is we do not have a facility that meets their requirements for either of the national conventions.  Since we tore down our Kingdome, we do not have another facility in the city that meets the requirement for the number of people that are going to be involved...  Right now we have what's called Key Arena at the Seattle Center, which is not an adequate place, but its enclosed, and then we have our two stadiums, which are open air stadiums so that also will not work for the conventions."

Milwaukee, WI--Steve Filmanowicz in Mayor John O. Norquist's office stated [May 2002 phone message], "The decision regarding the Republican National Convention and hosting it really came down to the fact that we didn't meet the criteria set up by the selection committee...  They had a very specific number of hotel rooms within a, whatever, 10 mile area that they needed, and we didn't meet that requirement.  So while they did float our name out there as among potential cities, really we didn't get to first base because of the amount of hotel space here in Milwaukee." 

Indianapolis, IN--Steve Campbell, communications director for Mayor Bart Peterson (D), stated [May 2002 phone conversation] that the mayor left the decision on a bid up to the state Republican party, and that party officials wanted to focus more on state issues and elections.  (In 1998, under then GOP chair Mike McDaniel, the city had made an "all out" effort to gain the 2000 Republican National Convention, and was one of five finalists).

Denver, CO--Andrew Hudson spokesman for Mayor Wellington Webb, stated [June 3, 2002 e-mail], "We have chosen to forgo applying for the Republican convention primarily because we felt it would be too expensive and severely problematic to host.  We were a finalist for the WTO that ended up in Seattle and observing this event, it just does not seem to us that the Republican Convention would be a wise investment of time, tax money or energy for our City.   =p We hosted huge events like World Youth Day in 1993, the Summit of the Eight in 1997 and both the NHL and NBA Allstar games with no problems.  For Denver, we felt that the Republican convention would be too risky for our City to host, both from a financial and a public safety perspective.   =p Last month we hosted the International Chamber of Commerce and budgeted more than $1 million in police overtime to handle potential protestors.  While the protests were limited, these types of events have created become a 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst' environment that end up draining City taxes and resources." 

Cincinnati, OH--Mayor Charles Lukens (D) put the matter in the hands of the Hamilton County Republican Party, which examined it.

Phoenix, AZ--Attended May 1 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, but ruled out a bid.  Scott Phelps, press secretary for Mayor Skip Rimza, described Phoenix's interest as "kind of a learning experience" [May 2002 phone conversation].  "We went to learn more about the process," Phelps said.  In November 2001, Phoenix residents approved Proposition 100, authorizing the expenditure of up to $300 million from a special enterprise fund for renovation and expansion of the 30-year old Phoenix Civic Plaza convention center, with an additional $300 million to be sought from non-city sources.  In 2004, that project will be in process; Phelps said the city is looking ahead, possibly to 2008.

Orlando, FL--Attended May 1 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, but ruled out a bid in a May 7 letter to RNC site selection committee chairman Ellen Williams.  The letter stated, "As was relayed by your incredibly competent team of advisors and experts, hosting this event would require a significant local public and private sector commitment that we simply cannot assemble at this time."  [Orlando's analysis]

Los Angeles, CA--Attended May 1 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, but ruled out a bid in a June 5 letter citing a busy schedule of convention activity.  Mayor James K. Hahn wrote, "In August and early September of 2004 conventions yielding more than 50K room nights have announced their selection of Los Angeles.  To accommodate the requirements of the RNC, these conventions would be displaced.  At a time when Los Angeles has just begun to move out of a particularly challenging period in travel and tourism, I trust you will appreciate the need to prevent the losses that attend the cancellation of these events."  The City of the Angels may also have had its fill hosting national conventionns with the Democrats in 2000.  Further, it seemed unlikely that the Bush team would be favorably disposed to California.  Republicans have not had much success lately in the Golden State: Democrats control all statewide offices except Secretary of State (held by a McCain supporter), Bush lost here by a sizable margin in November 2000 despite a significant investment, and his efforts to influence the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary failed.

Nashville, TN--Attended the May 1, 2002 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, but ruled out a bid in a June 12 letter to RNC site selection committee chairman Ellen Williams.  The letter stated, "[W]e have determined that the timing is not right for this cycle, due to the bookings already in existence, including the American Legion National Convention on the same dates of the 2004 GOP Convention."  Tennessee was one of the keys to Bush's victory in November 2000, as the Bush-Cheney ticket defeated Gore-Lieberman in the vice president's home state by a margin of 51.1 percent to 47.3 percent.  Bill Purcell became mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County in September 1999. 

Charlotte, NC--Attended the May 1, 2002 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, but ruled out a bid in a June 13 letter from Mayor Patrick McCrory to RNC chairman Marc Racicot.  McCrory stated, "As we reviewed the request for proposal and the facility needs for the 2004 convention, we found that we would not be able to submit a competitive bid for 2004, namely due to facility and hotel requirements.  However, I am pleased to report that our hotel room capacity is increasing and we will soon have a signature, 700-room, convention center hotel open.  I also anticipate that we will have a new Center City arena/entertainment facility in the development stage within the next two years."  McCrory went on to state, "Given the uncertainty of the exact timeframes for these facility enhancements to our hospitality and tourism industry, I felt it would be premature to submit a bid for the 2004 Republican National Convention."  He "look[ed] forward to submitting a very strong proposal for Charlotte to host the 2008 National Convention.  [Charlotte was one of 8 cities considered for the 2000 Republican Convention, meriting a site visit; it was also one of 9 cities to submit a proposal to host the 2000 Democratic Convention, but didn't make it to the site visit stage.  The city is hosting the 2002 Southern Republican Leadership Conference at the Charlotte Convention Center June 27-30, 2002.  Mayor Pat McCrory was elected to a fourth term in December 2001 and has been president of Republican Mayors and Local Elected Officials since December 2000].

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Sites of Recent Conventions
2000 Philadelphia, PA Los Angeles, CA
1996 San Diego, CA Chicago, IL
1992 Houston, TX New York, NY
1988 New Orleans, LA Atlanta, GA
1984 Dallas, TX San Francisco, CA
1980 Detroit, MI New York, NY
1976 Kansas City, MO New York, NY
1972 Miami Beach, FL Miami Beach, FL
1968 Miami Beach, FL Chicago, IL
1964 San Francisco, CA Atlantic City, NJ
1960 Chicago, IL Los Angeles, CA


Copyright © 2001, 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.