KANSAS CITY — A shortage of luxury suites to wine and dine high-dollar donors overshadowed an impressive local monetary commitment in the decision not to award the 2016 Republican National Convention to Kansas City, according to documents related to the city's recruitment effort.
City officials pledged up to $7 million to add a dozen or more luxury suites at the Sprint Center after GOP site selection officials concluded in April that the downtown venue lacked enough amenities for party VIPs, The Kansas City Star reported .
The newspaper's review of more than 5,000 pages of convention-related documents revealed the city also pledged $7.3 million in free rent, electricity, insurance, engineering, housing and office space.
On top of that, the local convention task force obtained almost $20 million in cash commitments by early June — including a $3.3 million pledge from Kansas and $5 million promise from Missouri — leaving the site selection committee "in awe," according to one email.
In the end, the selection committee last week announced its preference for Cleveland.
The decision was disappointing for local boosters and politicians who had spent two years trying to land the lucrative convention. Local officials last week estimated the cost to the area for the recruitment effort was about $850,000, including more than $250,000 from taxpayers.
The documents show the task force's proposal included a list of more than 100 area hotels around the Kansas City metropolitan area and 137 bars and restaurants open until 3 a.m. The hotel list was pared after the Republican National Committee said it might need fewer rooms than originally planned.
Kansas City, with roughly 1,400 police officers, said it would provide 2,400 officers working in 12-hour shifts during the seven days of the convention, the documents show. The rest of the force would have come from surrounding communities and the highway patrols of both Missouri and Kansas, the task force said.
Though cost estimates for the police presence were not provided, convention organizers would have relied on a $50 million federal security grant to defray most of those costs.
In March, Mayor Sly James' office became concerned that Missouri lawmakers might pass a bill restricting gun law cooperation between local and federal law enforcement officials, the records show.
"It would kill our bid because we cannot do the convention" without the help of federal authorities, mayoral aide Jay Hodges complained to the city's lobbyists.
The lobbyists responded that the city could hardly ask Republican lawmakers for $5 million for the convention, and then oppose their gun bill.
The so-called gun nullification bill died on the last day of the session in May.