The city of Jacksonville announced late last night that it will take over a portion of hosting duties for the 2020 Republican National Convention from its original host city, Charlotte, NC.
Details as to exactly which events will be held in Jax are still being worked out by city and party officials, but at minimum, the city will play host to Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech. Early reports suggest that the more business-heavy meetings and events, typically reserved for the first day of the convention, will remain in Charlotte, with the crowd-heavy events coming to VyStar Veterans Arena in Jax. The convention is set to take place from August 24 to 27.
The convention’s relocation was prompted by disagreements between Republican officials and the city of Charlotte over COVID-19 precautions.
Rather than submitting to the city’s safety concerns, the GOP opted to begin searching for a new host to accommodate Trump’s speech and other big events.
While a few cities were quick to dismiss the idea of hosting the convention amidst an ongoing pandemic, Mayor Lenny Curry openly lobbied to bring the convention to Jax. Last night’s announcement, therefore, represented a major victory for Curry.
“Today’s announcement is exciting news for the city of Jacksonville,” said Mayor Curry via press release. “I enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to highlight everything our city has to offer, along with the tremendous economic impact. We look forward to hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention for all delegates and guests to enjoy.”
The city claims to have secured 10,000 hotel rooms for the convention already.
Reactions to the convention coming to Jax have been mixed, with many pointing out that Trump’s speech would be scheduled for what also happens to be the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, an event that brought national attention to the city for its extreme racial violence against peaceful Black protestors. Some have also pointed out that the number of COVID-19 cases has been steadily rising in Florida, including a record 1,698 new cases reported just yesterday, making the concept of hosting large-scale indoor events rather complicated.
Regardless, the city will now have just over two months to take on the task of planning for and hosting the majority of the Republican National Convention, while also balancing the concerns and safety of its residents.