Nashville mayor sees several hurdles to hosting RNC 2024


Obstacles remain if Republicans hold their 2024 national convention in Nashville.

“I don’t think the RNC fully understands what we’re getting for a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a press conference Wednesday. “We’re not going to expect our hospitality industry to suffer a loss to have this.”

Cooper’s comments come as officials from Milwaukee and Nashville — the final two cities vying to host the Republican National Committee event — presented their cities’ attributes to GOP officials earlier this week.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee previously said the opportunity to host the 2024 convention would be a “tremendous economic opportunity” for the state.

He offered a $25 million tourism subsidy in this year’s budget it could go towards the convention.

He also has the support of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, which is expected to approve all public funds spent on the event.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland. “It’s something to be very proud of, whether it’s a city or a state.”

GOP visit:An RNC delegation will travel to Nashville next week as part of the convention bidding process

Related:Governor Lee offers $25m tourism grant as Nashville named RNC and World Cup runners-up

This isn’t the first time Nashville and Lee have courted an RNC convention.

In 2020, Nashville was in the mix as the RNC raced to find a last-minute host city amid a standoff with North Carolina over restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milwaukee is selling itself as “turnkey” ready due to its work hosting the 2020 Democratic National Convention before it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Cooper, a Democrat, said one of his concerns about hosting the event in Nashville was security.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper at a press conference Wednesday.

Nashville’s convention facilities are clustered downtown, raising additional logistical and financial considerations. The Metro Nashville Police Department should “feel really good about this for the enforcement to go further,” Cooper said.

The perimeter of the Nashville Secret Service convention would center around the Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center, and include parts of Lower Broadway. In theory, the owners of these venues should receive compensation if their businesses are closed to the public during the event.

“I think there’s weeks of homework to do,” Cooper said.

Milwaukee officials said they plan to raise $65 million through private funding to stage the event.

Related:Top GOP leaders won’t rule out using state money for RNC as Nashville mayor says no city funds available

Nashville is looking to raise about $60 million, which could come from private and public sources, according to Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden.

“To be in the bottom two is a true testament to Nashville’s strength,” Golden said. “In terms of delegate experience, there are very few places that can compare.”

Republican officials visited Nashville in Februarywhere they met with a delegation of state and city officials.

The Republican National Committee is expected to make a final decision at a party meeting in August.

Adam Friedman is the political and government reporter for the state of Tennessean. Contact him by email at [email protected]

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