CLEVELAND — It's been one hell of a Republican National Convention, complete with accusations of plagiarism and a hostile reception for a rival who refused to endorse Donald Trump, but two bank sponsors see it as an unqualified success in spotlighting their home area.
Both KeyCorp and PNC sponsored the convention, a potentially risky move considering fears of possible violence and security issues due to protests in the area.
While the inside of the convention hall has been chaotic at times — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was loudly booed on Thursday night and part of Melania Trump's speech on Monday was lifted from Michelle Obama's address eight years earlier — the city of Cleveland itself has come off well, with no major incidents.
"The headline we are going to get out of it is what we had hoped, which is to show the world why we are proud to be headquartered here," Beth Mooney, KeyCorp's chairman and CEO, said during an interview here Thursday.
"We made a saying when we put our hat in the ring of getting this convention: We don't care if they are Democrats, we don't care if they are Republicans, and we don't care if they are from Mars. We want this convention to be an opportunity to showcase … the revitalization of a city like Cleveland.
Mooney is a co-chair of the 2016 Cleveland Host Committee, which is set up as a tax-exempt nonprofit and has received donations from KeyCorp.
The bank's presence in Cleveland was hard to miss. Key Tower is the tallest building in Ohio and is across the street from a redeveloped public plaza that was completed just weeks before the convention. The plaza, named simply Public Square, was a $50 million project funded mostly from private donations. Mooney said KeyCorp chipped in $4 million, noting that the plaza is essentially the bank's front yard.
Though PNC is headquartered in nearby Pittsburgh, the bank also provided some funding to the host committee for the RNC and the Democratic National Convention, which is being held the week of July 25 in Philadelphia.
Paul Clark, regional president of PNC Bank for Cleveland, participated on a panel with Mooney on Thursday to discuss the mutual benefit of redeveloping communities to improve the local economy.
Clark also played a part in the conventions preparation. "The planning has gone on for almost two years, and we learned a lot along the way about each other, how to work together, and it has gone extraordinary well … we are just delighted about how it all worked out," he said.
"It really has been an opportunity for Cleveland to change the narrative about who we are — to provide to the 15,000 national and international media about what our city is all about," Clark said.
The pride among the city's locals, including Mooney and Clark, was palpable. The city just finished celebrating the Cavaliers' NBA championship, which ended its 50-year title drought in the major professional sports.
Volunteers, including employees of KeyCorp and PNC, have done their best to keep operations running smoothly during the convention. Even the ride-share drivers and local waitstaff are eager to ask, "How do you like Cleveland?"
When asked whether the divisiveness of the current election cycle raised concerns about sponsoring the conventions, Clark replied that it had not.
"We only deal with what we can control and we do not whatsoever control the political process," he said.
He added that he would like Cleveland to have another opportunity to show off the city — "whether it be the 2020 Democratic convention for the Democratic Party or the Republicans would want to come back or maybe they both want to come at the same time."