KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Staff and technical advisers from the Republican Party have set their first formal date with Kansas City, a technical site visit to be conducted on April 25, RNC officials announced Tuesday.
The technical visits to each of six remaining cities vying to host the 2016 Republican National Convention will be closed to the press and should each only last one day. By mid-May, Republican officials will use what they learned during the site visits to further narrow the field to a smaller group of cities that will receive a more formal, larger visit.
“We’ve entered the next phase of the site selection process with all cities on an even playing field – there are no favorites, there are no underdogs,” RNC Site Selection Chair Enid Mickelsen said in a statement.
Chatter among Republicans connected to the process and from political observers has lately focused on Las Vegas’ bid, thought to be an early favorite despite Mickelsen’s comments. The presence of GOP super-donor Sheldon Adelson, who could largely fund the convention out of his own pockets, has strengthened Sin City’s bid, these people say.
But some GOP insiders also call Kansas City’s bid an “emotional favorite,” receiving high marks for the enthusiasm of the delegation, led by Mayor Sly James, that presented to the party in March, and for the perception that a heartland-focused convention might be good for the party’s brand.
Officials connected to Kansas City’s bid have long been confident in the city’s technical qualifications to further pursue a bid. The Sprint Center, which opened in 2007, comfortably meets the party’s technical criteria and unlike arenas in Denver, Dallas or Phoenix, won’t be occupied with NHL or NBA playoffs, should the GOP move the convention to late June, as has been discussed.