It was promised months ago, but a report detailing how the Republican National Convention impacted Cleveland’s economy is still not out. Now, there’s fears those numbers may not have lived up to lofty expectations set by the host committee.
Restaurant and bar owners like David Steele, who runs the Flat Iron Cafe in The Flats, says he was ready for the crowds when he took advantage of a permit, allowing him to serve alcohol until 4:00 a.m. the week of the convention.
But Steele said he never had to stay open that late.
“It was more of a fizzle than a boom,” Steele said.
Ward 8 Councilman Mike Polensek believes the estimated $200 million in economic impact anticipated might have been optimistic.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t come into the city because they were afraid,” Polensek said. “So people were being transported from the convention to their hotel, in some cases with armed security. And they got to the hotel. They stayed at the hotel.”
An April report on the Democratic Convention’s economic impact in Philadelphia showed that while the convention did offer a boost, it came in about $120 million short of what was promised.
Still, the RNC brought in 50,000 convention goers, who booked thousands of flights and hotel rooms. That’s not to mention the worldwide publicity.
“You couldn’t have bought the publicity,” Polensek said.
Steele looks back with his glass more than half full.
“It really put a positive spotlight on a city that’s already on an upswing,” he said.
Cleveland spent about $10 million on preparations, in addition to a $50 million federal grant for security. That report, from the tourism group Destination Cleveland, was prepared by researchers at Cleveland State University. Neither would comment Wednesday for this story.