Milwaukee makes the final four to host 2024 Republican National Convention

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee could once again take the center of the political stage in 2024.

The Brew City has made the short list to host the Republican National Convention (RNC) in 2024, according to the Republican National Committee.

The RNC announced it has narrowed the final four to Milwaukee, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City. Committee staff will be traveling to the four finalists to confirm that these cities are viable to host and will narrow the selection down to three cities. 

Milwaukee submitted its bid to host the RNC in December. The application highlighted the city's entertainment venues, the culinary scene, Fiserv Forum and more. 

Milwaukee was prepared to pull out all of the stops to host the Democratic National Convention in 2020, but that event was scaled down and became mostly virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most Milwaukee leaders couldn't be more excited at the prospect of hosting another major political convention. The scaled-down 2020 Democratic National Convention didn't bring the revenue city leaders hoped for.

VISIT Milwaukee estimates the RNC could bring in between $180 and $210 million in economic impact plus national attention and political starpower.

"Any large political convention will present an opportunity to put Milwaukee on the map further, just like we saw last year with Milwaukee Bucks," Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.

Two of the final cities are in battleground states, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and the other two are in solid red states, Tennessee and Utah.

"The logic of coming here is purely political: Will it help win Wisconsin in the next presidential election?" said Mordecai Lee, professor emeritus at UW-Milwaukee.

In the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Wisconsin was decided by fewer than 30,000 votes. Political experts say a convention could make the difference in 2024.

"It would be a statewide event. Every TV station in Wisconsin would send the crew down here," Lee said.

But Alderman Bob Bauman has some concerns.

"I'm just not sure Milwaukee's got the resources -- hotel resources in particular -- to handle a major convention," he said.

In 2020, the DNC delegations were supposed to stay at hotels as far away as Chicagoland or Madison.

Plus, Bauman points out, Milwaukee is largely a liberal city governed by Democrats.

"There's a whole controversy: If we have a convention where Donald Trump is the lead guy and all this -- I guess the process will play itself out," he said.

But VISIT Milwaukee expects the city to rally together for a chance like this.

President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith said the city has added several amenities since the DNC, from the new convention center downtown to new stages on the Summerfest grounds.

"They've seen our bid. They know where our hotels are, and we've made the top four, so they're obviously interested in what Milwaukee has to offer," she said.

RNC staff members will travel to all four cities to confirm that they'll make good hosts.

Meanwhile, Williams-Smith said VISIT Milwaukee will submit a bid for the 2024 DNC if the city gets a request for proposal.

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