Report: RNC narrows list of possible sites for 2024 convention to two

Milwaukee remains in the running, Williams-Smith to make final pitch next week in Washington D.C.

Downtown Milwaukee's skyline.

Last updated on March 18th, 2022 at 01:26 pm

Milwaukee and Nashville have emerged as the final two contenders to host the 2024 Republican National Convention, according to a report today from Politico.

The Politico Playbook Daily Briefing reported Thursday morning that Salt Lake City was eliminated from consideration last week, leaving Milwaukee and Nashville as the finalists. Citing sources, Politico said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel was in Milwaukee on Wednesday to meet with Mayor Cavalier Johnson and the local host committee.

Previous reporting by Politico indicated that Milwaukee had emerged as the favorite while a group of 24 RNC officials toured the city in mid-February as part of the site selection process.

Next week, it will be Milwaukee’s turn to pay a visit to the RNC. VISIT Milwaukee president and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith is heading to Washington D.C. on March 22 to make one final pitch for Milwaukee as host city.

In an hour-long presentation to the RNC’s site selection committee, Williams-Smith will drive home several key points that were discussed during last month’s site visit: the city and state’s commitment to hosting the 2024 convention; the event’s bipartisan support; safety and security; transportation; area hotel footprint; large-scale venue capacity, including the Wisconsin Center expansion and Fiserv Forum; and the Midwestern hospitality that has left an impression on many visitors, she said.

Peggy Williams-Smith

“We heard so many comments back from the site selection committee that we really knocked it out of the park – that coming in to our site tour Nashville had the lead, but we really showed them,” she said. “Just like we always hear, ‘We didn’t know how great Milwaukee was until we came.'”

Another advantage Milwaukee has in this race is experience. It played host to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but the event was a huge disappointment for the city because it was almost entirely held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the preparations for the 2020 DNC have Milwaukee ready with a plan for the 2024 RNC.

“We’ve already gone through a lot of this stuff to make sure that we were ready,” said Williams-Smith. “Remember, we were only four months out (from the 2020 DNC) when the world ended, so we have a lot of this stuff in place. It’s just a matter of tweaking it for the time and the size.”

The 2024 RNC would bring between 45,000 and 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee and would have an estimated economic impact of nearly $200 million. The event would also bring significant media exposure to the city. At the time of the RNC’s visit, $20 million had been pledged by donors to host the 2024 convention, if awarded to Milwaukee, said Williams-Smith.

Milwaukee is also making another run at hosting the next Democratic National Convention. In September, then-Mayor Tom Barrett formally accepted the Democratic National Committee’s invitation to compete in the site selection process. But the RFP process for that event has not begun yet. Williams-Smith said the RNC will most likely make its site selection before the DNC even sends out its RFP.

Some Democrats have said the city deserves another shot to host the DNC, since the 2020 event was mostly virtual. To seek the 2024 DNC, Milwaukee leaders would once again have to come together to organize and raise millions of dollars to host the massive event.

At least one thing’s for certain: Milwaukee wouldn’t host both conventions in the same year, said Williams-Smith.

“If we don’t get the RNC, I think we’ll still have an opportunity to bid on the DNC, but this takes the entire community to be able to put together this kind of bid and we would need that financial support and to pinpoint that person who would help to do that,” she said.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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