It’s official: Jacksonville to host Republican National Convention in 2020

Event pulled from North Carolina, rescheduled in Florida

Safety, health concerns for Republican National Convention

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After much speculation, it’s been officially announced that the Republican National Convention will take place in Florida this year with Jacksonville serving as the host city.

The event was originally scheduled to take place in North Carolina in August, but President Donald Trump pulled it from there because the state’s governor couldn’t guarantee a packed arena with limited social distancing guidelines.

A news release issued Thursday evening said that the event will occur at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which has a capacity of up to 15,000.

The RNC is scheduled for August 25, 26 and 27.

Mass gatherings of more than 50 people are currently prohibited in Florida under the governor’s coronavirus reopening plan.

It’s also unclear if attendees will need to wear masks or if other measures will be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a news release. “Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump’s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said multiple times in recent weeks that he supports the RNC being held in the Sunshine State.

“Florida is honored to host this special event where we will celebrate the re-nomination of President Donald J. Trump,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Jacksonville is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”

News 6 partner WJXT estimates that the event could generate $100 million in revenues for the host city, if not more.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he’s looking forward to the potential economic impact.

“Today’s announcement is a huge win for the City of Jacksonville to host the celebration of President Trump’s acceptance of the nomination,” Curry said in a news release. “The opportunity to highlight all our city has to offer and the tremendous economic impact is one I enthusiastically welcome, and we look forward to hosting an exciting event for all delegates and guests to enjoy.”

Even before the announcement, hotel rooms from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27, which is when the RNC was slated to take place in North Carolina, are hard to come by in Jacksonville.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo also released a statement about the event:

“First, let me be clear that I sincerely hope that the Republican Party is successful in keeping everyone safe at their events. However, I am deeply concerned that the impetus for moving their highest profile event to Florida was because Donald Trump wanted to give a speech to a crowd of people not social distancing -- and, given his previous public events, likely not wearing masks. Those are safety protocols set forth by his own administration’s public health experts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Donald Trump abandoned North Carolina because he wants it to look like the threat of the coronavirus is over when he gives his big televised speech. Unfortunately, optics are not a public health strategy, nor are they a good re-election strategy. No speech this president makes can successfully gloss over his failed coronavirus response to Americans who have watched this president dither for months as more than 44 million have filed for unemployment benefits and 113,000 have lost their lives. Trump is coming to Florida to throw himself a big party -- but it’s looking more and more like a goodbye party to his chance at a second term in the White House,” the statement read.