Las Vegas vying to host 2016 Republican National Convention


By Andrew Doughman

Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki announced today he’s leading an effort to attract the Republican National Convention to Las Vegas in 2016.

Although the convention is years away, several cities across the United States will be competing in 2014 to secure the right to host the large convention.

Krolicki’s announcement and the launch of the website are the first moves to signify that Las Vegas wants to be seen as a serious contender in its bid to host the convention.

“The same reasons why the world comes and convenes here is the same reason we believe the RNC (Republican National Convention) will be compelled to come here,” Krolicki said.

The website displays a brief pitch for the city, which has never hosted a presidential convention for either the Democratic or Republican Party.

“Las Vegas will provide the world class facilities, accommodations, infrastructure, dining, and entertainment options to make the 2016 convention like no other,” reads the text on the website. “We are the No. 1 convention destination in North America. This is what we do.”

The massive presidential convention would bring tens of millions of dollars into the Las Vegas economy and would present the city with weeks of free media promotion around the nation.

If Las Vegas is to be successful in its bid, the nonprofit Krolicki is leading will need significant community buy-in and financial support.

That nonprofit, Nevada Host Committee, Inc., will have the support of “key Nevada business and hospitality industry leaders” as well as the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, according to a press release announcing the effort.

Billionaire Republican donor and Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has already expressed interest in bringing a convention to Las Vegas and Krolicki said he’s a “full partner” in this effort.

“They are thrilled with the thought and prospect of this and have been very instrumental in some of this early work but the Sands understands this needs to be a citywide effort,” Krolicki said.

Las Vegas Sands government relations vice president Andy Abboud told the Sun that the company is “100 percent” behind this effort.

MGM Resorts public affairs vice president Alan Feldman said that MGM is “certainly committed” to the project.

“It is impossible as a longtime resident of Las Vegas not to notice what kind of incredibly outstanding job we would do if given an opportunity to host a national political party convention,” Feldman said.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., and numerous Republican state senators also praised the announcement Tuesday.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who changed her registration from Democrat to non-partisan before being elected mayor, praised the bid.

“I’m most supportive of bringing any and all major conventions to Las Vegas,” Goodman said. “As a registered non-partisan I’d welcome any of the major political conventions to Las Vegas. There is no better city to host a convention with the amenities that Las Vegas offers.”

The press release announcing the effort brags that “with nearly 150,000 hotel rooms, Las Vegas could have hosted all the attendees of the Tampa GOP Convention inside a one-mile radius and within a mile of the airport.”

Krolicki said he’s been to four Republican National Conventions and has spent hours sitting on shuttles going to and from hotels to the convention site. That wouldn’t be an issue in Las Vegas, he said.

But the city may be missing a venue large enough to host the Republican National Convention itself.

Although UNLV is studying the development of a “mega events center” that would be large enough to host the convention, that study won’t even be complete before the end of 2014.

Krolicki dismissed such concerns about a suitable venue, saying that the Nevada Host Committee, Inc. has already “fully and successfully” addressed that issue.

“We absolutely are comfortable with a venue strategy that we’ve identified,” he said. “At this time it’s inappropriate to go into details.”

If the 2012 national conventions are any indication of the size of what the 2016 conventions will be, then Las Vegas would need to be prepared to host 35,000 to 50,000 people.

Feldman said this wouldn’t be a problem for Las Vegas.

“That’s something we regularly do multiple times per year,” he said.

Supporters of the effort to attract the Republican National Convention say that Las Vegas is the perfect city to host a convention.

“It’s exciting to be a part of this effort. Las Vegas makes perfect sense for the GOP Convention,” said Jack St. Martin, executive director of Nevada Host Committee, Inc. “Las Vegas knows how to host something of this magnitude and Nevada’s diverse demographics make total sense for the GOP to come here.”

Krolicki said the Republican National Committee will be meeting in January next year, and it will be at that meeting that representatives from cities like Salt Lake City, Phoenix, New Orleans, Kansas City, and others seeking to host the convention will first have a chance to appeal to a national Republican audience.

He said the Republican National Committee sent out letters to cities, including Las Vegas, last week to solicit bids to host the convention.

Bids will likely be in by mid-year next year with a decision coming in 2014, Krolicki said.

In the meantime, Krolicki says he’ll devote his energy to this project and will sideline his own bid to run for Secretary of State in 2014.

“I am fully preppred to put all of my might into this project,” he said. “I will not be on the ballot in 2014 specifically as a candidate for Secretary of State as has often been mentioned.”

The Nevada Host Committee, Inc. isn’t the first board of this variety Krolicki has led.

Krolicki has experience chairing boards that seek to attract major events. He serves as chairman of the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition, a venture that is attempting to bring the Olympic Winter Games to the Lake Tahoe region.