Planning for the GOP convention (search) in Manhattan next summer is well ahead of schedule compared to past conventions because throwing a party in the Big Apple requires extra attention, the event's chief said Tuesday.

Bill Harris, a political operative from Alabama who has worked on every Republican convention since 1972, estimated that his convention staff of about 50 people is already finalizing plans that in past conventions were not secured until just months ahead of the gathering.

"And that's not saying anything negative about other conventions. I'm just saying that when you come to a city which is as complex as New York City is, you've got to make sure that you do your planning well in advance," Harris told reporters after addressing business leaders at a luncheon in Manhattan.

The four-day convention at Madison Square Garden (search) begins Aug. 30.

Among the plans emerging ahead of schedule are technical schemes like sound and lighting designs, and hotel assignments, which are expected to be announced later this month.

The staff, which will eventually grow to about 150, still has plenty to do, Harris said.

"New York, from my operational perspective, creates some challenges," Harris said. "It's an expensive city to do business in ... but that balances out with extraordinary opportunities."

Republicans held their 2000 convention in Philadelphia.