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August 1, 2014

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Officials upbeat after pitching Las Vegas to host GOP convention

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Karoun Demirjian

Balloons fall from the ceiling after Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Thursday night on Aug. 30, 2012.

Representatives for Las Vegas pitched the city to the Republican National Committee this morning as a potential host for the party’s 2016 convention, coming away upbeat about their chances.

“It was a wonderful conversation, and we are very hopeful that we will advance from the 8 round to the Final Four,” Lt. Gov. and Las Vegas 2016 Chairman Brian Krolicki said, likening the competition to the NCAA basketball tournament.

Las Vegas’s presentation actually “went into overtime,” running about 30 minutes past its allotted hour, Krolicki said.

“They were extremely interested. I was impressed by the thoughtful questions and by their body language and by the responses,” said former Nevada Gov. Bob List, also on the Las Vegas 2016 presentation team. “We’re being taken seriously, and we’re in the running.”

“It’s undeniable that Las Vegas, logistically, would be able to do a good job,” List said. “Not having had access to or been privy to the presentations from other cities, of course, it’s impossible to know what they heard from anybody else. But I came away feeling very positive about our chances of making it into the next round.”

One question that remains unanswered: Whether the Republican Party is ready to attach itself to a place that goes by the moniker of Sin City.

The topic came up in the bid review.

“That really was my bailiwick, to talk about the fact that we’re a real community, that we have family values,” List said, noting that he talked about, among other things, the city’s diversity, schools and civic groups. “I think we addressed those concerns quite well.”

It is not known when the RNC will take the next step of asking cities still in the running for site visits.

“I don’t know when or how many they’ll choose,” Krolicki said. “We hopefully were compelling in our story, and I think they will be shocked and awed when they can see the capabilities of Las Vegas for themselves.”

The pitch meeting was a long time coming.

Las Vegas representatives had expected to make their pitch earlier this month, but a snowstorm in the Washington, D.C., area sidetracked their plans, along with those of a handful of other cities, including one that may prove to be Las Vegas’s main competition: Dallas.

Representatives of the Dallas committee boasted that they already have raised most of the money to host the convention, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.

Las Vegas officials, meanwhile, expressed confidence they can come up with the $55 million to $70 million necessary to run the convention. Las Vegas also has more space available to host the event, whether for media, skyboxes or in the sheer number of hotel rooms, officials said.

Las Vegas 2016 team members reminded the committee that in the last presidential election cycle, Las Vegas raised more money than any other city, with $96 million for the Republican Party coming from Strip casinos alone.

“We have demonstrated an ability to not only raise money, but to give to causes outside of Nevada, and [the RNC] understand that very well,” Krolicki said.

Las Vegas may also find its chances buoyed by a potential Achilles’ heel in Dallas’s bid: Timing.

The RNC has not decided whether to host the convention in June or July, and Dallas only has one weekend for certain in mid-July to host the event.

In Las Vegas, June and July are fairly slow for conventions, making clearing space on the city’s calendar relatively easy. “It’s a question of blending and coordinating,” List said.

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