TAMPA — With the Republican National Convention less than 10 months away, Mayor Bob Buckhorn has extended a job offer to the convention center director of the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, to run the Tampa Convention Center.
Rick J. Hamilton has accepted the offer to be Tampa's convention center and tourism director, which would pay him $125,250 annually. Assuming that he clears his background checks and passes a drug test, Hamilton will fill the position that came open when Buckhorn promoted Santiago Corrada to be his chief of staff.
"Rick's wealth of experience will help Tampa continue to be a premiere destination," Buckhorn said in a statement Friday night. "I am confident he will be a great addition to our team moving forward and especially as Tampa hosts the 2012 Republican National Convention."
Hamilton graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and has more than 30 years of experience, city officials said. He has managed public convention centers in three states, including the Ocean Center Arena and Convention Center in Daytona Beach. In Maryland, he oversaw both the 160,000-square-foot Ocean City Convention Center and the local visitor's bureau.
A start date has not been set, but Hamilton is expected to take control of the 600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center as preparations pick up for its biggest event ever, next year's GOP convention. While the convention itself will take place at the St. Pete Times Forum, the convention center will be the working hub for an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 journalists.
Under a contract between the city and the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee, the city will turn over the convention center to RNC organizers starting July 16 for what promises to be an intense period of work to get ready for the Aug. 27-30 event.
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.