S.F. opts not to bid for GOP convention

San Franciscans needn’t wonder if Bill O’Reilly will get a photo standing in front of Coit Tower or who will win the “best protest sculpture” prize at the 2008 Republican National Convention. The City will not apply to host the affair, the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau told the Republican National Committee on Monday.

The deadline for bids was Monday for the four-day convention, scheduled Sept. 1 through Sept. 4.

The party will select its 2008 presidential candidate at the convention, which is a major media spectacle and security challenge. San Francisco was one of 34 cities and counties invited to submit bids. At press time, New York City, Tampa, Minneapolis and Cleveland had put their hats in the ring, according to Republican National Committee spokesman Aaron McLear.

The Moscone Center, The City’s largest conference center, is not the 25,000- to 30,000-person tiered-seating arena needed for today’s national conventions, SFCVB Vice President Mark Theis said. To turn Moscone Center into such an arena, as it did in 1984, would take weeks and require booting existing customers, Theis said.

The specter of huge protests and public safety expenditures didn’t influence the decision because thinking never got beyond the practicalities, Theis said. Nor did it influence the RNC’s hope that famously lefty San Francisco would consider applying.

“It would be great for our city to host either the Republican or Democratic conventions,” Theis said, but added that the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, California Dental Association, Oracle and others already have reservations around the convention dates.

The City last hosted the Republican National Convention in 1964. It also hosted the 1984 Democratic National Convention, the year Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro ran against Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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