You might think the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week would be a boon for local businesses. But according to some casino executives at the neighboring JACK Cleveland Casino (coincidentally owned by Quickens Loans Arena owner Dan Gilbert), that’s not at all the case.
The JACK Cleveland Casino plays an integral role in the city’s downtown nightlife, along with the professional sports stadiums, museums, and numerous restaurants and bars in the area. But this week, the RNC has taken over the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World” by hosting its nominating event at “The Q,” as the arena hosting the convention is known.
While the RNC is expected to bring $200 million in direct spending to Cleveland during the four-day convention, the JACK says it’s actually been bad for its own business.
“We are expecting to have significantly negative impact on traditional business this week just because of a lot of the traffic challenges,” JACK Entertainment SVP of Operations Mark Tricano told Crain’s Cleveland Business. “But we are optimistic that over the long term, the benefits of getting worldwide exposure for the city will more than help make up for that.”
There is indeed plenty of exposure as the Trump train moves into the Cleveland station.
The Republican Party officially voted yesterday to make Donald Trump its nominee. He won’t formally accept until his speech on the final day of the convention, July 21. Donald Trump Jr. cast the votes for the New York delegation that officially put his billionaire father over the threshold. Then Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “New York, New York” immediately began playing.
The Q arena is home to the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and just a short walk from the JACK Casino.
Also Bad for Hillary?
In addition to the JACK Cleveland Casino not bringing in typical revenues, the RNC is also shaping up to be a tough week for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. As expected, the rhetoric being delivered on the stage is as much about dissing Clinton as it is about pumping up Trump.
But New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the most brazen critic. The former presidential candidate, who had also been a rumored vice presidential finalist at one point, played a game of “Guilty or Not Guilty,” repeatedly asking the delegation if Clinton was guilty on various issues including Benghazi, Libya, and her email scandal.
Also not shocking: those in attendance “convicted” her on all counts. Christie claimed after his speech he came up with the concept at 1:30 am that morning. It was a crowd pleaser, while garnering less critical commendation by the Monday morning quarterbacking of media pundits, who largely felt that policy should have been a more central focus of the Garden State leader’s presentation.
But it was Donald Jr. who stole the evening. The dashing 38-year-old provided insight on growing up as a Trump, and explained how his father always instilled hard work in his children and his coworkers. The young executive also noted that his father often finds potential in people even they don’t see.
“We didn’t learn from MBAs. We learned from people who had doctorates in common sense,” Trump Jr. told a receptive crowd.
Trump Show, Kasich No-Show
With Trump officially the nominee and the “never Trump” movement derailed, the next two nights in Cleveland are expected to focus on uniting the party behind its now-official GOP nominee.
One politician who will be noticeably missing is Ohio Governor John Kasich. The former presidential candidate signed a pledge a year ago to endorse the eventual Republican nominee, but isn’t willing to keep his word when it comes to Trump.
Kasich has done much for the Buckeye State. Currently in his second term, the governor has cut taxes, created a $2 billion budget surplus, and grown 350,000 jobs.
He’s also expanded gambling in Ohio by issuing an executive order to authorize video lottery terminals at the state’s seven horse tracks. But that doesn’t explain the governor of the state that is hosting the Republican Convention simply refusing to participate in any way.
Ohio Importance to Election
One fact is inescapable: no Republican has ever won a presidential election without winning Ohio.
The Ohio delegation has been bizarrely placed to the left of the state behind Pennsylvania for the convention delegate setup. The RNC says states were placed based on primary results, and Kasich won all 66 votes in Ohio.
But that’s still a tad odd, considering Ohio’s importance this fall. It’s also indicative of how divided the GOP remains.
Wednesday night, presentations from former rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio should be a telling bellweather in determining if the Republican Party can finally kiss and make up, and move on towards November.