of Tampa | Tampa Bay Convention
& Visitors Bureau
TAMPA - ST. PETERSBURG,
"In addition to our world-class resources
and accommodations, Florida also holds an important place in our nation's
political landscape. As you are aware, Florida is the fourth most
populous state in the nation with 27 electoral college votes, and hosting
the 2004 Republican National Convention in Florida will send a strong,
positive message of our party's commitment to victory in this state.
I hope you will give the Tampa/St. Petersburg area every consideration
to serve as the home of the 2004 Republican National Convention."
Jeb Bush, in a letter to the RNC Site Selection Committee
Tampa – St. Petersburg: The
Tampa Bay has grown into a major population
center and a political bellwether community, accurately predicting statewide
trends. The Tampa Bay area subsequently has become a key focal point
for any national political campaign. The candidate capturing the
hearts and imaginations of Tampa Bay voters likely stands a good chance
of doing well at statewide- and nationwide-levels.
Tampa Bay's Host Committee has the necessary
experience, influence, and commitment to successfully produce the Republican
National Convention. The Host Committee is co-chaired by Al Austin,
CEO of the Austin Companies and current Finance Committee Chairman for
the Republican Party of Florida, Bob Basham, COO of Tampa-based Outback
Steakhouse, Dick Beard, Owner and President of R.A. Beard & Co. and
a past Finance Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida from 1995 –
1998, and Rick Michaels, CEO of Communications Equity Associates, who has
also served as Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Republican Regents program
since its inception in 1999. Since its brief inception, the Tampa
– St. Petersburg Host Committee numbers almost 90 individuals, reflecting
the strong support and diversity from the participating municipalities,
counties, state and business community.
Strategic Convention Venues:
Boasting impressive capacity, the latest
technology and modern amenities, the Ice Palace arena provides the perfect
setting for the main convention area. Media workspace is easily accommodated
at the adjoining Tampa Convention Center. Both facilities enjoy dramatic
views of the waterfront and the downtown Tampa skyline, while nestled in
the middle is the brand new 717-room headquarters hotel, the Tampa Marriott
Waterside. With over 21,000 seats and 82 luxury skyboxes at the Ice
Palace, and over 360,000 square feet of usable space at the Tampa Convention
Center, both facilities’ packages are further enhanced by the fact that
Florida is a right-to-work state.
With over 40,000 available guest rooms
in the Tampa Bay area, the target of 20,000 rooms and 2,000 suites was
easily achieved for the formal bid. Overnight options include beach
front properties, golf resorts, and high-rise luxury hotels.
Tampa Bay is a bastion of hospitality,
thanks to its population of local residents who consistently welcome 27
million visitors each year. Additionally, the area provides peace
of mind when it comes to security. Not only do the local law enforcement
agencies operate as a unified security task force under the Mutual Aid
Agreement, but also MacDill Air Force Base, the world’s current peace keeper,
serves as headquarters for both the U.S. Central Command and Special Operations
Tampa Bay boasts one of the most popular
and admired airports in the world, Tampa International Airport. Offering
additional accessibility are St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport
and eight other regional airports. Once in Tampa, delegates will
enjoy a myriad of transportation options, including electric streetcars,
rubber wheeled trolleys and a network of over 350 buses. To insure
maximum connectivity and convenience, the Host Committee has developed
a detailed four-phase transportation plan.
The Winning Strategy:
The vibrant community of 2.5 million residents
known as Tampa Bay awaits the opportunity to provide the experience, the
venues, the support, but also the strategic edge as a prospective Host
City for the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Photo Courtesy Tampa Bay
Convention & Visitors Bureau
The RNC's Site Selection Committee visited the Ice Palace
during its stop in Tampa-St. Pete on Aug. 6-8, 2002.
of Nov. 22, 2002 letter from Florida's 18 Republican congressmen.
Tampa-St. Pete is mounting a serious effort to attract its first ever national
party convention. A convention in Tampa-St. Pete could give Republicans
a boost in the contest for Florida's 27 electoral votes. Located
at the western end of the pivotal I-4 corrider, Tampa sits on the eastern
side of Tampa Bay and is linked to St. Petersburg in the west by the Gandy
Bridge, which is almost three miles long. Awarding the convention
to Tampa-St. Pete could be seen as a reward to Jeb Bush for his work in
tipping the state to his brother in 2000, however a convention here might
also open up a re-hashing of 2000. According to the Associated Press,
twenty-one representatives from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area attended
the May 1, 2002 meeting with RNC representatives in Washington, DC.
In a June
5, 2002 press conference, Tampa Mayor Dick A. Greco announced an 83-person
host committee. (Greco began his public service career when he was
elected to the Tampa City Council in 1963 at age 29; he later left politics
for the corporate world but returned and was re-elected to a fourth term
as Mayor of Tampa in March 1999). Tampa Bay hosted Super Bowl XXXV
in January 2001. In October 1996, St. Petersburg was the site of
the vice presidential debate between Al Gore and Jack Kemp.
Copyright © 2002 Eric
M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.