The Utah Republican Party wants Salt Lake City to host the party’s national convention in 2024.
The party, along with Visit Salt Lake, made their opening pitch to the Republican National Convention in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.
“There hasn’t been a Republican National Convention west of the Mississippi River since 1996 when it was in San Diego,” Carson Jorgensen, chairman of the Utah Republican Party, said.
Salt Lake City was one of three finalists to be the host city for RNC in 2012, losing out to Tampa. Jorgensen says a reason Salt Lake was not selected then was a lack of hotel rooms close to the convention site.
“This event is larger than many people realize. We need almost the same capacity as the Olympics,” Jorgensen said.
That won’t be a hurdle anymore as the Grand Hyatt convention hotel should be up and running by then.
Salt Lake City also bid to host the 2016 Republican convention but was eliminated as a contender early in the process.
At least 7 other cities known to be bidding to host the 2024 GOP event: Las Vegas, Kansas City, Houston, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Milwaukee was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but COVID-19 forced the party to scale back its plans. Milwaukee officials also are considering a bid to host the Democrats in 2024.
Phoenix, Columbus and Atlanta all are rumored to be considering a bid to host, too.
Mike Deaver, who is helping to lead Salt Lake City’s bid, says the committee was very receptive to the city’s message when it made its initial pitch.
“We told them there’s a reason Utah has done so well in quality of life, economic growth and business environment. It’s because of 30 years of Republican leadership. We said they should look for a state with a track record like that,” Deaver said.
Hosting the event would be a massive economic shot in the arm for Salt Lake City. Jorgensen says the convention could bring in $250 million or more.
Besides, hosting the convention would be a good warm-up for possibly hosting another Winter Olympic Games in 2030.
“We’re one of the few red states in the Intermountain West right now. It’s almost all blue around us. The GOP is really paying attention to the West right now because every state is going to matter in 2024,” Jorgensen said.
As red as Utah is, Salt Lake City is an island of Democratic blue in the state. Deaver says that won’t be a hurdle at all.
“Both (Salt Lake City) Mayor Erin Mendenhall and (Salt Lake County) Mayor Jenny Wilson told us they are supportive of the effort,“ Deaver said. “They understand what this event would mean from an economic development standpoint.”
There is another potential sticky political wicket to consider.
The front-runner to be the GOP nominee in 2024 is currently former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly clashed with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. How would having Trump accept the 2024 nomination in Romney’s home state go over?
“That’s not going to be a big deal. They plan these things two or three years in advance. Once it’s to that point, it doesn’t matter who the nominee is,” Jorgensen said.
Deaver said 2024 is too far off to even consider at this point.
“We’re just in round one of a 10-round heavyweight fight. We have a long way to go, but I think we’ve got a good chance,” Deaver said.