TAMPA — The 2012 Republican National Convention will serve as the Tampa Bay area's own economic stimulus plan, promising an influx of nearly 50,000 people, local organizers say.
The Tampa Bay Host Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Monday unveiled its new website and logo: an image of the downtown skyline and a red palm tree.
The announcement came after the Republican National Committee voted unanimously Friday at its summer meeting in Kansas City, Mo., to ratify the Tampa Bay region's bid to host the convention. The event is set to take place at the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown Tampa; the media center will be housed at the Tampa Convention Center.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Al Austin, the Tampa Bay committee's chairman.
Austin said the organization hopes to raise $50 million over the next two years. He would not disclose how much has been raised so far. He said the committee is reaching out to prospective donors, both Republican and Democrat, in the Tampa Bay area, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Miami and Orlando.
The city of Tampa will get $50 million from the federal government for convention security, said the host committee's acting CEO, Ken Jones. The RNC also expects to receive $18 million from the Federal Election Commission, he said. The convention is scheduled for the week of Aug. 27, 2012.
The host committee has booked 15,000 hotel rooms and about 100 venues, including restaurants, private clubs and public buildings in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater for various events during the convention, Jones said.
Some of those venues could include the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center), Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium and the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg.
Jones said the organization plans to train 10,000 volunteers to help delegates navigate their way and to assist police and safety officials. Volunteers can sign up at the host committee's website: 2012tampa.com.
Jones said the Republican National Committee has also set up an office with three employees in downtown Tampa.
Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.