The Republican National Convention was Cleveland’s re-emergence on the world stage and a showcase for our tourism and events capabilities in front of 50,000 of the world’s most influential people. We can pull this off, we told them, and we can do it with style. So with those lessons in mind, let’s get on to the next — the 2019 MLB All-Star Game and beyond.
An event as large as the RNC was only possible due to the unified efforts of traditional adversaries — from the Democratic-controlled city and county governments to business competitors. To host an event of that scale again, everyone will have to unite around a common goal. “People put their egos aside, they put their politics aside, and it was all for Cleveland,” says David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland. “We’ve seen things where people work together, and this was something very different. It was just a real, common vision.”
While Cleveland has hosted the International Children’s Games in 2004, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four in 2007, the Senior Games and Gay Games, the RNC proved we’re capable of pulling off events at the highest levels. “Locals just don’t realize what we could do as a community,” says Gilbert. “The RNC finally got people to realize it — there is nothing we can’t accomplish as a community.”
The RNC showed the city is capable of telling our own story, says Gilbert. Destination Cleveland is even repurposing the social media command center it ran during the convention for smaller events. “For the past 40 years, this community has lost a lot of self-confidence, because we let other people write the narrative for us,” says Gilbert. “With the RNC, we took it back. And we had the confidence to take it back.”