CLEVELAND (WJW)– Five years ago, Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention.
Fresh off the Cleveland Cavaliers championship and parade, the city welcomed roughly 50,000 people, including the GOP’s biggest names, hundreds of delegates and members of the media from around the globe, as Republicans officially made Donald Trump their nominee for president.
Quicken Loans Arena was transformed into the convention floor, Progressive Field became a marketplace for vendors, Gateway Plaza had TV studios and a bar and the neighboring parking garage was a temporary home for journalists. Fences and barricades stretched down East 9th Street as buses with Secret Service agents shuttled convention-goers to the Q.
Like Cleveland has done so many times, it impressed visitors.
“If your goal was to make us feel welcome, at home and wanted, you 100 percent did that,” one couple from Kansas told FOX 8. “You can rest assured though that with the way we were treated, and the beauty of the city and its people, Cleveland is on the ‘must-return to’ list of many of us.”
Studies showed the 2016 RNC produced more than $110 million in direct spending across a seven-county area. It also changed people’s perceptions of the city.
“That bottom line mirrors our goals from the day Cleveland was chosen as the host city: The convention infused revenue into our economy that wouldn’t have otherwise been realized, and, possibly more importantly, it launched Cleveland on a national and international trajectory in regard to awareness and reputation,” said David Gilbert, president of Destination Cleveland, following the study.
The Cleveland Division of Police, especially Chief Calvin Williams, attracted a lot of attention and praise. Williams traded his white commander uniform for a bicycle and joined officers monitoring protests in Public Square. The chief greeted protesters and joined them in prayer, calling the RNC one of the highlights of his career. He even got a phone call from Trump.
“I was just calling the chief to say what a great job he did, he’s more famous than I am because I think he got more television time than I did,” Trump said on the call. “You should all be very, very proud of yourselves and Calvin has done amazing. So I just want to thank all of you for the great job you’ve done.”