Tinley to host 2012 state GOP convention
By Matthew Bruce Correspondent August 17, 2011 11:46PM
Updated: November 3, 2011 10:12AM
State Republicans may be storming into Tinley Park next summer, looking to paint the town red.
The newly expanded Tinley Park Convention Center may be the site of the 2012 Illinois Republican Convention, according to state GOP officials. The two-day convention will be held on June 8 and 9.
“That’s a great coup for us,” Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki said. “I’m happy that we were successful in being able to get it here.”
State Republicans are scheduled to finalize motions to bring the convention to the Southland Thursday, said John Blessing, a state GOP spokesman.
The conference takes place every four years.
The convention center, 18501 S. Harlem, is fresh off a $22 million, 24,000 square-foot expansion that increased its exhibition space to more than 58,000 square feet.
Center officials weren’t counting their chickens on the GOP event just yet. Center director of sales and marketing Daniel Fitzgerald on Wednesday would not confirm whether the conference is coming next year, because GOP officials had not yet voted to make it official.
He did, however, note that the convention would be a big boost to the center.
“Obviously, we’re waiting with our fingers crossed,” Fitzgerald said. “If we do get it, it would be huge for us. It would put us on the map.”
The event, scheduled to be held during the dog days of the 2012 presidential campaign as candidates are scrambling for votes, likely will draw notable political figures from across the state and possibly the nation.
In 2004, then-President George W. Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove, delivered the keynote address at the state Republican convention in Collinsville.
“You never know who’s going to show up there,” said Jim Garrett, president of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We’re delighted. It’s going to be bringing important dollars to the area and it will create jobs.”
Blessing estimated that the event will draw a few thousand Republican supporters to the area.
He said the Tinley Park site was picked because of its improved conditions as well as the fact that it sits just off Interstate 80.
“The last two conventions have been downstate,” he said. “The idea was to rotate it to the northern part of the state. The nice thing about the convention center is that it’s in the southwest suburban area, so people driving from downstate don’t have to travel as much of a way as they would if it were in Chicago.”