CLEVELAND—Physical space is a hot commodity in Cleveland right now. For months, space brokers have been helping restaurants and office buildings negotiate top-dollar rates to rent out their facilities for parties and events during the week of the Republican National Committee Convention in July. The competition has become so intense that brokers and businesses have become quite secretive about the deals they are negotiating.
This evasiveness was on display during a recent visit to a stretch of the city near the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention will take place. One of the most desirable locations there is Harry Buffalo, a sports bar with an open-air dining room and spacious bar. When I asked the bartender if they had rented out the space for the convention, she quickly interrupted me. “Sorry, but I can’t talk about this,” she said. “We signed a confidentiality agreement.”
“Really? Why?” I asked.
“I can’t comment,” she said. Rumor has it that CNN rented out the space for its convention headquarters.
Cleveland’s recent downtown renaissance, after the city had lost residents for decades, helped secure its spot as the top pick to host the convention. It beat out Dallas to put on the quadrennial event, which is expected to bring 50,000 visitors to the city, who are mostly delegates, journalists, and lobbyists. Many corporations and nonprofit groups host events during political conventions to promote their brand or political agenda.