As Cleveland nears the one-year mark from the start of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016, those charged with carrying out the gathering came together on Wednesday to say all systems were a go.
Host Committee President & CEO David Gilbert said they've raised roughly $39 million of their $65 million goal.
He also expressed progress in the battle with local hotels to honor their commitments to fill the conventions hotel needs.
Gilbert said they now have commitments for 12,000 rooms, up from 8,000 in April, with more coming in daily and is confident they'll reach their 16,000 room goal.
He also said they've had more than 500 local companies sign up to take part in their vendor database in hopes of taking advantage of some of the estimated $200 million-plus economic impact the convention will provide.
The RNC's point man, Steve King, Chairman of the Committee on Arrangements said, "The host committee is making good if not excellent progress one year out from our convention."
"As a run-up to the convention, Cleveland will be showcased next month when the Republican National Committee hosts its summer meeting in conjunction with the first Republican Presidential Primary Debate the evening of Thursday, Aug. 6," he said.
Mayor Frank Jackson will be in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to meet with members of the Ohio Congressional delegation as they, along with representatives from Democratic National Convention host Philadelphia, continue to push for the full $50 million in federal security dollars that were awarded to the host cities in 2012.
"There's always tension now, as you know, with the budgets. The way they are, people are having different conversations about different things and that's why we're going down there. We don't want to take anything for granted," Jackson said. "If they want a successful convention it would behoove them to provide for the security."
The security zone, which is yet to be determined, can make the arena around the convention look and feel like a demilitarized zone and that's something local organizers want to avoid.
"The message shouldn't be go run for the hills because there are a lot of people coming to town. It should be just the opposite," said Gilbert, who is hoping to create a festival-type feel downtown to draw many locals. "History is going to be made and we're going to see some real cool stuff in our city outside the arena that many locals may want to be a part of and we're going to make sure that we make it easy and we communicate to them that it will be easy to come down and be a part of it."
Gilbert likened it to the feel around the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals when thousands of people came downtown, even though they didn't have a ticket.
Along that line, Steve King was asked if he felt confident the arena would be ready if the Cavs return to the NBA Finals next year.
"If you can promise me the Cavs can win the NBA Championship in 2016 in four straight games, we're good," King joked. "We will get it done whether it goes seven games or whatever. It's going to be a rush, probably faster than we've ever had to do before, but I'm comforted by the fact that our folks tell us we will be ready for opening night July 18."
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