Republic National Convention could boost downtown Jacksonville businesses hit by pandemic

Republic National Convention could boost downtown Jacksonville businesses hit by pandemic

Jacksonville, Fla. — The River City appears to be a frontrunner to host the Republican National Convention this August.

The City of Jacksonville said the summer convention could have a $100 million impact, at a time businesses need it the most.

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Chris Jones, general manager of the Bay Street Bar & Grill, said it would be a major boost for businesses downtown.

“With the COVID-19, we took a major hit,” Jones said. “Having more people around in the area will boost the sales of the entire economy, of the entire downtown area.”

There are people pushing back against the RNC coming to Jacksonville.

Several people have sent emails to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to express their concerns about hosting a large event during the coronavirus crisis.

In one of the emails, a person wrote “I’m appalled that you would allow thousands of people from all parts of the country to come here and put lives at risk by the spread of Covid19.” Another person wrote, “I would like to express my opinion that bringing the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville in the midst of a global pandemic is irresponsible and a gross neglect of your duties. As you float this idea, you are putting my family’s safety and all of my neighbors at risk.”

In another email, a man said the timing wasn’t right, “under other circumstances it would be excited for the city to host a national convention, but not this time.”

Duval GOP Chairman Dean Black said if the RNC comes to Jacksonville, the pandemic will be taken into consideration, but he referred us to the RNC for details on the plans.

Black said this would be the biggest event for Jacksonville since the Superbowl in 2005.

“This is an opportunity for Jacksonville to shine,” Black said.

He admits they have their work cut out for them.

Typically, it takes at least two years to plan an event of this scale, but Black said they would have less than 2.5 months to prepare.

It’s not a done deal just yet. RNC Officials sent Action News Jax a statement that said “No final decision has been made there are several cities still being visited/considered. It very well could end up being Jacksonville but at this point they are still doing site visits.”