(Updated 2 p.m. Thurs, Feb. 27)
St. Louis has decided against bidding to host the 2016 Democratic presidential convention, citing the current civic focus on improving the downtown access to the Gateway Arch.
Instead, city officials will consider seeking the 2020 convention "when the Arch (project) is done and paid for," a spokesman for Mayor Francis Slay said Thursday.
The decision comes a day after Kansas City officials announced that they have put in a serious bid for the 2016 Republican presidential convention. On Thursday morning, Kansas City got the news that it was one of the eight finalists.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters in a conference call that he was helping Kansas City in its quest. He said that Kansas City's strengths include its downtown arena, which doesn't have sports-team commitments, and the city's overall ambiance.
Blunt predicted that Kansas City will end up in the finalist round, but emphasized that its rival contenders are strong. Three are from the key battleground state of Ohio -- Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus -- along with Las Vegas, Nev.; Denver, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Dallas, Tx.
St. Louis officials had indicated a year ago that they might seek to duplicate the strong bid -- complete with a Chuck Berry concert and a "flash mob" -- they made for the 2012 Democratic convention.
St. Louis ended up being a runner-up to Charlotte, N.C.
But when it comes to 2016, the downtown project to redo the Arch grounds appears to have intervened. Slay spokeswoman Maggie Crane had emphasized Wednesday that "there would need to be a local buy-in from our public partners" before a convention bid could be made, and noted "CityArchRiver is our current civic priority to the region. There's a lot of money involved in it."
There's also the practical standpoint. Political activists and analysts have said that it would be extremely unlikely for both major parties to choose 2016 convention sites in the same state -- even a potential swing state like Missouri.
Kansas City’s application for the GOP convention had been expected. It had even generated talk at the state GOP’s Lincoln Days meeting last weekend when attendees had noted the unusual presence of some representatives from the Republican National Committee.
Kansas City last hosted the Republican national convention in 1976, when Gerald Ford was the nominee. For Republicans, Kansas City has an advantage with its location, since it’s next to another strong GOP state, Kansas.
Kansas City accompanied its application with a cool video.
In a statement, Kansas City officials , including Mayor Sly James, a Democrat, took note of the region’s national GOP ties:
“Every four years, there are three distinct moments that define a presidential election. In between a candidate’s announcement and Election Day in November, the world watches as a four-day celebration unfolds that highlights the strength, vision, and unity of the Republican Party.
“2016 is quickly approaching. Kansas City is ready to welcome back the Republican National Convention.
“We have a long political history that this generation of Kansas Citians wants to continue. From Convention Hall in ’28 to Kemper Arena in ’76, we’ve prided ourselves on being the best that America has to offer and the epitome of Midwestern hospitality. As Ronald Reagan remarked from the stage of Kemper: 'These wonderful people here, when we came in, gave Nancy and myself a welcome.'
“When he returned eight years later for the 1984 presidential debate, President Reagan made a point of specifically thanking the people of Kansas City for 'their warm hospitality and greeting'.”