Nashville moved a step closer to hosting the Democratic National Convention in two years, making the shortlist of 15 cities organizers are considering.
Chicago, New York City, Miami and Las Vegas also made the cut to host Democrats as they gather from around the nation to choose their party's nominee to succeed President Barack Obama in the summer of 2016.
More than 30 potential sites were invited in February by the Democratic National Committee to submit applications for the nearly week-long event. Local officials have until June 6 to submit their proposals — or not, if they decline — about how the city would partner with the DNC to stage the massive and costly event.
Nashville has been ruled out as a site for the 2016 Republican National Convention. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. said other organizations had booked the Music City Center for the dates the GOP convention is to take place.
Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., estimated that hosting the Democratic convention would cost as much as $70 million and tie up the Music City Center for four to six weeks while preparations are made. But the event would bring prestige, thousands of visitors, millions of dollars in spending and worldwide attention.
"When you demonstrate you can host an event of this magnitude, you're pretty much showing you can host anything," he said.
Nashville remains a long shot to host in 2016. Both parties tend to place their conventions in states that they hope to swing in their favor, and it's unlikely that Tennessee will be competitive in two years.
But Mayor Karl Dean said the city should continue to pop up in conversations about such events.
"I think this city will host a political convention in the upcoming years," Dean said. "Whether it's the Democrats next time around, I don't know. Obviously we're not a state in play (politically) unless things change dramatically, and the Democrats just had a convention in the South last time.
"But I'm not surprised they're interested in us. This city's got a great appeal."
The DNC also will consider whether potential hosts have the facilities to stage the pageantry and whether there are enough hotels to house the delegates and media who descend on the region, as well as the ease with which visitors can navigate the city.
Summer weather may be a factor. The Republican National Committee delayed the start of its 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., because of Hurricane Isaac. Storms forced the Democrats that year to scrap an outdoor rally in Charlotte, N.C. The history would weigh on officials considering storm-vulnerable Atlanta, Miami and Orlando.
Spyridon said the Convention & Visitors Corp. would discuss bidding with members of Dean's administrators and other state and local officials before deciding whether to submit a proposal.
"It's a great opportunity," he said. "It's a great honor, but if we have to beg off, we will beg off with all the grace and appreciation we can muster."
Michael Cass and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Final 15
Atlanta; Chicago; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Miami; Nashville; New York; Orlando; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City
Source: Associated Press