Cleveland lost a bid for the 2008 Convention, and, in the years since that inspection, much has changed

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CLEVELAND -- A team of 12 Republicans spent Tuesday inspecting the city of Cleveland, its Convention Center and sports stadiums.

"The way this started in Cleveland, the rest of the (competing) cities are gonna have a lot of work to do," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "What has totally impressed the committee about Cleveland is the huge commitment and willingness by the team here to make this work."

Cleveland lost a bid for the 2008 Convention, and, in the years since that inspection, much has changed.

"Folks who were here for the '08 bid told me Cleveland fixed the deficiencies that were in place back then," said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald. "We are now the only city in the country that is competing for both the Republican and Democratic conventions."

A "close cluster" of hotel space near the home base of the convention -- Quicken Loans Arena -- was a problem that has been noticeably improved.

"You've had an amazing renaissance in the downtown area of Cleveland in recent years, and that's impressed us," said RNC Site Selection Committee Chairwoman Enid Mickelson. "While Cleveland is a largely Democratic city, we feel that the more people that get to know us, the more voters we will draw in. We're happy to be in a city where we can make new friends."

Concerns over scheduling was the lone "problem" RNC Chair Priebus cited. "There's always the date issue. We have that in every city."

Republicans want to start their convention on either June 27 or July 18. The June date could conflict with NBA games at The Q if the Cavs needed to host an NBA Finals Game 7. Similar conflicts would also be problematic in the competing cities of Dallas and Denver, whose basketball arenas face similar potential conflicts. Kansas City is the only city without such a conflict.

"Those logistics will not be an issue for us," says Cleveland Host Committee Chairman Terry Egger. "We know we have to treat it as a serious concern. We're not concerned we won't be able to execute on that."

The visiting Republicans who dined on their first night on stage at Playhouse Square also visited Progressive Field and The Cleveland Convention Center before having dinner Tuesday night at The Cleveland Museum of Art.

They will tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Wednesday before flying out midday.

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