Tag Archives: Republican National Convention

Quote of the Week

23 May

“It’s normally our quietest

time of year during this

period, so we’re putting

heads in beds when Tampa

needs it the most.”

— Bill Wickett of the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Fla., on the arena’s plans to host the Republican National Convention in July 2012.

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Bookings: St. Pete Times Forum Lands GOP Convention

22 May

St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Bay and the St. Pete Times Forum will host the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC). The largest non-sporting event ever hosted by the city, the RNC is expected to attract more than 40,000 visitors to the area during the last week of August.

“One of the reasons the RNC picked Tampa is because we have one of the best venues in the country to host a convention like this,” said Ken Jones, co-chairman of the host committee. “The layout and design of the Forum are perfect for this event, and the staff and people that work there are incredibly professional.”

The impact of the 2008 convention in Minneapolis was estimated at nearly $170 million in new spending, along with approximately 2,800 new jobs that produced $100 million in wages.

The host committee is projecting a budget of $49 million, which will be raised from private donations. “We are a not-for-profit organization, so our job is to promote Tampa Bay’s cities and alleviate the financial burden on the city’s government in connection with the event,” Jones said.

Along with this funding, RNC will receive a direct grant from the Federal Election Commission of approximately $18 million. In addition, because this event has a National Special Security Event (NSSE) designation, the city will receive $50 million from the federal government for security costs related to the RNC.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Ken Hagan, chairman of Tampa’s Hillsborough County, were instrumental in winning the bid for the city, said Jones.
Tampa Bay was asked to bid on the RNC in both 2004 and 2008, and was a runner up to Minneapolis, which hosted the last convention.

“The RNC requires a venue with at least 18,500 seats and 2,500 seats on the floor,” said Bill Wickett, executive vice president of communications for the St. Pete Times Forum. “The committee also looks at the building’s square footage and suite count for ancillary events. The Forum sets up well for these needs.”

The Forum is situated in Tampa’s Channelside District on the waterfront. It’s within walking distance of the city’s convention center and hotels, which are all located within a three-block area.

“We also have 100,000 sq. ft. of exterior plaza space and five and a half acres of adjacent land that can be utilized for the media, trade show booths and whatever else is needed,” Wickett said.

The RNC will take over the venue for six weeks at the end of July 2012 until the convention’s completion. An extensive build-out, including upgrades and changes, will take place inside the Forum prior to the convention.

Although the biggest challenge will be coordinating the move in and out of the RNC from the facility, the event is scheduled during the venue’s slow period.

“It’s normally our quietest time of year during this period, so we’re putting heads in beds when Tampa needs it the most,” Wickett said.

There were a few pending events scheduled at the Forum during the convention period that Wickett said will now not be pursued.

The RNC is soon expected to move staff members to Tampa and begin working with the city’s organizing committee to put plans together for the event.

“This is a non-partisan effort, and we’re doing it for the good of Tampa Bay,” Jones said. “We will get to work and raise the money needed to put on the best show of any convention.” — Lisa White

Interviewed for this article: Ken Jones, (813) 226-6101; Bill Wickett, (813) 301-6500