It’s been a pretty good week for a rustbelt city dying to catch a break. It sounds like a description of Buffalo, but I’m talking about Cleveland.
The Republican National Committee will host the 2016 convention in Cleveland, Chairman Reince Priebus announced, “shining a spotlight on the party’s next presidential nominee in a state considered critical to the GOP’s chances of winning the White House,” according to the Washington Post.
The convention will begin either June 28 or July 18, 2016.
Cleveland has a new 750,000-square-foot convention center half a mile from Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention’s floor activities would take place. That arena is steps from Progressive Field, where the Indians baseball team plays. It makes me think about the rare mixture of the tense anticipation of politics and the restful bliss of baseball.
That good news was followed Friday by the announcement by LeBron James that he will be leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers National Basketball Association team this fall. The news was carried by the Sports Illustrated website.
“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there,” James said. “I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”
James made four consecutive trips to the NBA finals that included two championships and is seen as the type of impact player that could give the struggling yet proud city a national title.
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now,” he added.
Compare that emotion to what many Buffalo Sabres have said, with tears in their eyes, when they departed for such destinations as Detroit and St. Louis. While they were not expected to stay here because of the complexities of free agency, it was puzzling to hear how much they were going to miss us. So why did they leave?
But I digress.
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two,” James wrote. “But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”
As for the Republicans, the trophy they want to secure is the White House. Two lukewarm showings against Barack Obama and lingering internal strife are not the solid foundation party leaders need. But this year’s midterm elections could give the GOP more stability in Congress and help identify frontrunners for the national endorsement in two years.
Cleveland is a tranquil jewel in the nation’s heartland and easily embraced by a party favoring family values and the status quo. The other finalist, Dallas, has a more rambunctious nature and a 50-year nightmare still hanging over its head.
The Post reported that both cities had pledged to raise the $68 million required to provide venues and security for the four-day event, and to provide enough hotel rooms for the expected 40,000 to 50,000 delegates, journalists, party officials and guests who will attend.
Democratic National Committee officials are in the process of visiting Birmingham, Columbus, New York City, Philadelphia and Phoenix as possible venues for their 2016 national convention. Those favoring the nomination of Hillary Clinton would place their bets on the Big Apple, as it has direct ties to her years in the U.S. Senate. Vice President Joe Biden’s fans might prefer Philadelphia as it is nearest to his home state of Delaware and part of the Amtrak system he still brags about.
A national convention just a three-hour drive from Buffalo would give Erie County operatives a chance to have a feel for the big leagues. And maybe, just maybe, Buffalo could land a national convention someday.
(David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)