Two Ohio visits slated as GOP seeks convention site

CINCINNATI -- The two Ohio cities still in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention will be visited in late April by party staff or members of a selection committee.

Teams will visit Cincinnati on April 29 and Cleveland on April 30 for a more in-depth look at factors such as financing, convention venues, media workspace and hotels.

The visits will help officials decide which of the cities on the short list get visits from the full RNC delegation before the convention site is chosen.

Republican officials plan to pick the host city this summer, and Las Vegas has emerged as an early leading contender. The other cities in the running are Dallas, Denver and Kansas City, Mo.

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Cincinnati and Cleveland passed an early cut when Columbus and Phoenix were not picked.

If Cincinnati could land the convention, it would bring an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people and could have an economic impact of $150 million.

However, the Queen City’s host committee has to find a way to come up with $50 million in funding to lure the GOP here. And that’s not the only issue.

While several hotel projects are in the works, and the city boasts a burgeoning food scene, it lacks the large convention space other cities have.

The U.S. Bank Arena, which can house a bit more than 17,000, hasn't undergone a major renovation since the $14 million facelift the 41-year-old building received in 1997.

Cincinnati’s host committee claims the group behind the arena, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), is willing to come up with the funds needed to upgrade the space.

The final vote will take place in late summer or early fall.

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