Utah GOP chairman: No decision made on 2016 bid

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah GOP chairman Dave Hansen says Salt Lake City will wait before deciding whether to bid on the 2016 Republican National Committee convention.

2008 (McCain/Palin) was the first year since 1972 that the Republican presidential nominees did not include a Reagan, Bush or Dole.

On Wednesday, Tampa was chosen over Phoenix and Salt Lake City to host the 2012 convention.

Wednesday's announcement was disappointing to Utah officials, for a number of reasons. The 2012 convention would have been a huge coup for Salt Lake City: the money, the prestige -- and officials want to try for it again.

The third time was the charm for Tampa, where city officials have tried to woo the GOP convention for years. Top Republican officials say Tampa had more resources than Salt Lake city or Phoenix, which was also a finalist. Florida is also a swing-vote state in presidential elections, with 27 electoral votes.

But Republican officials say this was a business decision.

Wednesday, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce said he was only a little disappointed with the decision.

Republican Conventions

YearLocationPresidential nominees
1964San FranciscoGoldwater/Miller
1968Miami Beach, FloridaNixon/Agnew
1972Miami Beach, FloridaNixon/Agnew
1976Kansas CityFord/Dole
1988New OrleansBush/Quayle
1996San DiegoDole/Kemp
2004New York CityBush/Cheney
2008St. Paul, MinnesotaMcCain/Palin
2012Tampa, Florida?/?

"I think if it was truly based on qualifications, Utah first time around to end up really No. 2, speaks volumes to who we are," he said. "It was very positive."

Salt Lake officials pulled out all the stops, wooing and schmoozing the people making the decision. Over three days, the site selection committee checked out EnergySolutions Arena, area hotels, TRAX and transportation, restaurants, and double checked the area's typical August weather.

The scope of the event would have been huge economically, injecting $178 million into the Salt Lake area over three months, according to Beattie.

It would have been big enough to be comparable with the 2002 games, say city officials.

Mayor Ralph Becker's Chief of Staff said, "It would have been a huge deal. The way our business community was talking about it, and our security experts, it would have on the scale of the Olympics."

But rather than dwell on what didn't happen, officials are setting their sights on the next opportunity: The 2016 convention.

Hansen says Utah organizers will likely wait until after the 2012 election before they consider another bid. Hansen says Utah made a strong case this year and there was little else the state could have done to win.

If Salt Lake City bids again, Hansen says he thinks Utah has a good shot of winning the next time.

The selection committee's Tampa pick still needs formal approval from the full Republican National Committee in August, but that is considered a formality.


Story compiled with contributions from Richard Piatt and the Associated Press.

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