Denver’s convention experience an advantage in bid to host 2016 RNC

Photo: RNC site visitNational Republican Party leaders say Denver's ability to successfully host the Democratic National Convention in 2008 is its biggest advantage in luring the 2016 Republican National Convention to town.

"The experience that Denver brings to the table is very impressive, because you’ve already been through one of these events, and there are very, very few things like it in the world," site selection committee chair Enid Mickelsen says.

Mickelsen and RNC chair Reince Priebus talked with the media Tuesday after a tour of the Pepsi Center, a potential home for the convention. The site selection arrived Monday and headed home on Wednesday. Other cities in the final four are Cleveland, Dallas and Kansas City.

Hospitality, security and transportation are all key factors in hosting the convention and Priebus says Denver has answered all questions about those areas.

"It's an involved group that knows what it’s doing," Priebus says of the bid committee. "I don’t think there is any question here about facilities or capabilities."

Fundraising, however, could be a concern.

Priebus says he wonders if Denver could raise the money needed for another convention so soon after the 2008 one when $50 million was raised after some initial struggle.

"It’s an expensive ordeal," Priebus says. "Basically you are raising money for someone else to spend. That’s a very difficult thing."

Denver’s bid committee chair Pete Coors says so far his group has raised $11 million of the $60 million needed. But unlike the competition, Denver leaders are vowing to raise the money privately.

Cleveland, for example, is using $10 million in public money while Dallas will use $25 million in sales and tourist taxes.

Both Mickelsen and Priebus stressed the site selection committee is viewing the choice of a host city as a host committee. It's also worth noting that Tampa had trouble raising the millions needed for the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Priebus did joke that Denver is getting extra points in the competition from a source close to him.

"I’ve been getting positive pro-Denver texts from my wife this morning," he says.

But the Wisconsin native also joked he's still getting over the Green Bay Packers loss to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in 1998.

The host city is expected to be chosen in August.