Will Vegas try for the conventions?
“I was thinking this morning it’s too bad we’re not in Las Vegas,” Obama’s top adviser, Robert Gibbs, said as he made a beeline from the outdoor security gate toward the air conditioning beckoning from Charlotte, N.C.’s Time Warner Cable Arena last week. “It might be 10,000 degrees, but at least it would be dry.”
In general, Las Vegas’ clustered hotels, abundant supply of taxi cabs, never-ending nightlife and safe geographic distance from the path of hurricanes collectively called like a siren song to delegates getting stuck and soggy in the Southeast over the past two weeks.
“The transportation was absolutely horrid. ... There were no taxicabs,” Bacchus, a first-time convention-goer, said of Tampa. “In Las Vegas, certainly activities would be a lot more fun. You don’t have to try too desperately hard to entertain people because just where you’re staying in your hotel is entertaining.”
But the reasons Las Vegas might be better at hosting a convention are exactly why the city hasn’t volunteered for the opportunity.
“We’ve been invited (to pitch a convention plan), and solely as a business decision, we haven’t,” said Billy Vassiliadis, whose firm, R&R Partners , represents the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “It’s just a function of our business model and the (parties’) needs not intersecting.”
The political parties pick their convention cities about two years in advance. Once selected, a convention host is required to hold the convention-dedicated space open for a long period of time: for at least two weeks, and as some tourism officials told the Sun, up to 90 days.
That’s a huge block of time for a city that normally hosts almost 60 major conventions per year.
To make room for a political convention, Las Vegas would have to bump as many as 10 regular conventions, depending on the year, tourism officials said. Some of those bumped conventions could even be potential repeat customers, meaning Las Vegas might be undermining its own business interests in exchange for a one-time political showcase.
Plus there might be the added cost, for Las Vegas, of building an indoor stadium big enough to seat all the delegates. UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center won’t cut it. There were complaints in Charlotte and Tampa that the stadiums were too small, even after chairs were pushed four inches closer together than normal in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. In Charlotte, delegates — save for a few special swing states — were placed in the stands instead of on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Still, that wasn’t enough for Las Vegas to bite when it was approached — by both parties — four and eight years ago.
And that doesn't even cover Las Vegas' reputation, deserved or not. I would expect Vegas to keep passing on making a bid.
Previously, Nashville, Salt Lake, Newark, Indianapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Cleveland, Columbus, Charlotte and Philadelphia have been mentioned as potential candidates to host one or both of the conventions in 2016.