Las Vegas and Cincinnati withdrew their bids on Thursday to host the Republican National Convention in 2016, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced as it whittled down the finalists.

Las Vegas was largely considered the front-runner in the group of host city finalists. City officials sent a letter to the RNC withdrawing their bid because it failed to meet criteria regarding the arena facility and enough on-site prep time.


Cincinnati submitted a letter withdrawing as well, an RNC official said.

Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City, Mo., are the four remaining cities competing to host the convention just over two years away.

“All cities excelled in nearly every aspect of their bids and presentation this year, but these four cities stood out from the field from the start of this process and deserve a deeper look by the full committee,” Site Selection Committee Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen said in a statement.

The RNC’s Site Selection Committee held a vote via conference call after the two cities withdrew, and agreed that the four remaining cities would receive an official site visit from an RNC delegation. Details regarding the times and dates for the official visits will be coordinated with each city. RNC officials have already paid technical visits to the nominated host cities to assess venues, hotels and financing. 

Las Vegas and Cincinnati made a “compelling case” in their bids, Mickelson said, and would make “excellent hosts” if they want to pursue hosting a future RNC convention.

The committee scrapped Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix last month.

The convention is slated for June, 2016.

--This report was updated at 3:58 p.m.