The last item of business of the Annual RNC Chairman's meeting in Maryland this week was the decision of the Site Selection Committee to contract with the Host Committee of Tampa, Florida for the 2012 Convention.
Salt Lake City and Phoenix were also in the running but it was always Tampa's to lose. This was their third bid and they had an outstanding host committee headed by Al Austin. I got to meet them when I was the Co-Chair of the Site Selection Committee and am confident that they have all the "juice" to make it happen as a first class event. (Now if everyone will please pray that the Hurricane season arrives very late or not at all during the 2012!!)
Once Salt Lake City became a finalist city I was required to recuse myself from the committee as required by party rules.
Congratulations to everyone on the Salt Lake City Host Committee , polictical, governmental, business, convention and visitors bureau, etc. who participated in making Salt Lake City not only a finalist but a real contender. It was clear that the committees visit to Utah was very successful. It was first time visit for many of the committee and they all came away very impressed and convinced that we had the venues, the convention facilities, arena, and infrastructure to put on an outstanding event. Of course the fact that we hosted the Olympics was one of the biggest selling points as well.
As we all know, to get the Olympics we bid several times. This is really no different. You learn some things going through the process so that should we bid again, we would be even more prepared to host a National Convention (Republcan or Democrat... let's face it... I'd be happy to host the Dems here as well... the color of the money they would spend in our community is the same color as Republican money.)
As Scott Beck, the CEO of Convention and Visitor's Bureau indicated to all of us on the Host Committee from the very beginning, bidding on these large conventions sometimes is a 12 to 20 year process. Many conventions are booked out more than a dozen years in advance so an extended timetable for successfully winning a bid such as this is neither unusual nor discouraging.
The good news? We don't need to raise $40m over the next 2 years to put on the event... the bad news is we don't get $170m in economic benefit dropped into our community.
Again, thanks to everyone's great support from my colleagues Chairman of the Utah GOP Dave Hansen and National Committeewoman Enid Green Micklesen, to Scott Beck and his staff at the CVB, Lane Beattie and Natalie Gochnour and their staff and members who participated in hosting the site selection committee, Gail and Greg Miller for sharing the Jazz with the committee one evening and their help in the bid process, Mayors, Legislative leadership, a great legal team led by Todd Weiler, and Governor Herbert and his staff. It was a great team effort and it was one that was surely acknowleged very favorably by the Site Selection Committee. There were many others from the Downtown Alliance to the Boyer Company who helped put on a great show for this bid and I know I have most certainly forgotton many who participated, but know that you are appreciated and that there was real value in this process.
We are definitely on the radar screen nationally and we can always point to our finalist status among 14 cities who had originally indicated an interest in hosting this event.
Good Luck to Tampa!!