Tampa is prime venue for Convention

By Zein Kattih, OPINION EDITOR
On August 28, 2012

Amidst the billowing winds of Tropical Storm Isaac and the new barricades in place to direct downtown traffic, it is obvious that something big is happening in Tampa.

The entire nation will watch as Tampa descends into the spotlight with the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Having the RNC in the Tampa Bay Area bodes well for both parties.

According to a Tampa-based research team at Jones Lang LaSalle, a publicly traded professional and services firm mainly dealing with real estate, the RNC will leave about a $153.6 million impact on the region, which could reach up to $173 million.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the Tampa Bay Host Committee alone is expected to raise and spend $55 million, and those visiting the city because of the convention are expected to spend about $85.6 million. Added security spending and other indirect fees may well raise the amount significantly.

Aside from the monetary aspect, the expected 15,000 to 16,000 journalists covering the RNC will provide the city with an opportunity to showcase itself, its historic buildings and its contributions to the U.S.

Though the viewership of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions as a percentage of households with a TV has declined significantly from its peak in earlier years, the online network coverage streaming adds to the presentation and broadcast available.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, some local TV stations are spending as much as $100,000 for space, phones and Internet access at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, not including other fees.

The RNC will bring with it abacklash in the form of protest- ers, whether against a candidate or a policy. Though superficially those protests may seem counter- productive, the 10,000 to 15,000 expected protestors represent an increased submersion of the local community in the overall national convention.

The protestors will increase publicity for and against the Republican Party and its candidates, boding well for the RNC hosts as well.

According to the Times, Kelly Benjamin, who put together a media tour this week of the so- called other side of Tampa the more impoverished side said Tampa spent about $2.7 million on landscaping in the hot-spot areas such as downtown and Bayshore Boulevard, while many of the impoverished areas were left largely untouched.

Moreover, Tampas political leaders are mainly Democrats, as the Interstate 275 billboard bought by Ruths List Florida, reminds visitors. The billboard welcomes the Republicans to the city where the mayor and all city council members are Democrats.

While that may appear to be a disadvantage, the resulting protests and political involvement due to a stronger opposition than may have been found in a largely Democratic city will bode well for the convention and allow them to attempt to reach a wider audience that is usually not readily available to them.

Though the RNC location in Tampa will serve the city well, it is not without its benefits to the party. In the city that was named the fifth most patriotic city in the nation by Mens Health magazine and the least expensive large U.S. city for business in 2010, and in a city where economy and residency is increasing, the RNC is in a prime location.

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