Houston is a finalist to host the 2028 Republican National Convention, local leaders and officials with Houston First Corp. said Thursday. 

The local government corporation, which markets and operates the city’s performing arts and convention centers, plans to bring a framework agreement before the City Council next Wednesday for approval, according to a statement from Houston First Corporation President and CEO Michael Heckman. 

“Houston First hopes to have the opportunity to host this major, national event in our city which will bring tens of thousands of guests and considerable economic impact to our city,” Heckman wrote. 

Miami and Nashville are the other two finalists, according to a Houston First spokeswoman. Agency officials said a decision on the host city is expected this month.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said Miami was the only other finalist.

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. 

If Houston is selected, the convention will take place in July or August 2028, and could attract as many as 50,000 people to the city, according to a 2022 Houston First letter supporting the bid. 

The convention primarily would be held at the Toyota Center and the George R. Brown Convention Center, according to the agency. 

The 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia drew 54,000 people and generated an estimated $230.9 million economic impact for the city, according to Houston First. 

The agency’s board of directors unanimously approved the framework agreement Thursday before sending it on to City Council.  

The city submitted its bid in July 2022, after City Council passed a resolution in support of hosting the convention by a 14-2 vote. Council members Abbie Kamin and Robert Gallegos voted against the measure, saying their constituents are harmed by the Republican Party platform, according to the Houston Chronicle

Gallegos, who is a nonvoting member of the board and a candidate for mayor in November, noted his objection to the bid during Thursday’s meeting and said he plans to vote against the framework agreement at council. 

“We are the most diverse city in this nation,” Gallegos said. “The far right rhetoric criminalizes parents of transgender children for doing what they believe is right for their children. The far right opposes women’s reproductive rights and supports anti-immigrant rhetoric, and, therefore, I will be voting no on this, come Wednesday.” 

Mayor Sylvester Turner has supported the city’s bid for the convention and hosted Republican National Committee members touring the Houston venues in December, Heckman said.

“It’s a great piece of business for Houston,” Heckman said. 

Turner was not available for comment Thursday. 

Houston has not hosted a national gathering for either party since the 1992 Republican National Convention was held in the now-shuttered Astrodome, where George H.W. Bush accepted the party’s nomination before going on to lose in the general election to Democrat Bill Clinton. 

The Democratic National Convention last was held in Houston in 1928.

The city also bid for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, but was snubbed earlier this year in favor of Chicago. The city previously bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but was passed over in favor of Milwaukee. 

The 2028 bid is supported by a bill approved by the Texas Legislature during this year’s regular session that allows Houston to use hotel occupancy taxes to fund improvements to the Geroge R. Brown Convention Center. 

The approval of the bill was crucial to Houston staying in the running for the convention because it will address concerns raised by the Republican National Committee in December over the convention center’s capacity and condition, Whitmire said. 

“It’s exactly what we had in mind when we passed Senate Bill 1057 to allow Houston to continue to compete with major venues for major conventions,” the senator and mayoral candidate said. “The George Brown is somewhat dated compared to Dallas and San Antonio and other big cities. It has to be updated and expanded.”

The law is expected to generate roughly $2 billion over the next 30 years for improvements to the convention center and surrounding entertainment district, Houston First officials said. 

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

Paul Cobler covers politics for the Houston Landing. Paul returns to Texas after covering city hall for The Advocate in Baton Rouge. During two-and-a-half years at the newspaper, he spearheaded local accountability...