Washington (CNN) – Tampa-St. Petersburg was chosen Wednesday to host the Republican National Convention, a weeklong political event that culminates in the official selection of the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012.
Phoenix and Salt Lake City were the two other cities in the running for the right to host the convention. Both cities were notified of the decision to choose Tampa-St. Petersburg and indicated interest in hosting the 2016 convention, a Republican National Committee source tells CNN.
“The Tampa area boasts state-of-the-art facilities, exciting and vibrant downtowns, and a clear enthusiasm from the community to host our convention,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. “We look forward to joining our compatriots in the Sunshine State for our convention in 2012.”
The RNC sent a delegation to visit all three cities over the past two months to see firsthand the municipalities' infrastructure, hotel room capacity, transportation, accessibility and entertainment options.
The RNC Site Selection Committee’s recommendation Wednesday that Tampa-St. Petersburg be chosen as the host city must now be formally approved by the full RNC membership when it gathers for its annual summer meeting in August.
“Tampa has put a great deal of effort into showcasing their city and what they have to offer,” said Site Selection Committee Chair Holly Hughes. “We are looking forward to a successful convention in Florida,”
Being awarded the convention brings international exposure and pumps perhaps as much as $170 million into the economy of the host city, according to an estimate provided by the RNC. Republican officials say that 45,000 people attended the 2008 Republican National Convention held in Minneapolis/St. Paul where Arizona Sen. John McCain received the presidential nomination.
The Democratic National Committee, which is considering 10 cities including Charlotte, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis and Tampa Bay will announce its decision in late fall, according to a Democratic source with understanding of the process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.