1. Business

Local business discount card will offer deals during Republican National Convention

TAMPA — In an attempt to help local businesses during the Republican National Convention, the Tampa Bay Host Committee will hand out discount cards offering deals at more than 100 Tampa Bay area restaurants, theme parks, golf courses and museums.

About 30,000 of the GOParty Cards will go to conventioneers at airports and hotels or will show up in goodie bags given to delegates and the media.

The deals — some discounts, some buy-this-get-that offers — will be good Aug. 17-Sept. 3, basically from 10 days before the convention through a few days after it.

The idea is to drive as many customers as possible to local businesses.

"Whether it's Democrats, Republicans, agonistics, independents, communists, socialists, anarchists — I don't care who they are, I want them to come here and spend money," host committee president Ken Jones said this week.

The GOParty Card is available to bay area residents online at At that site, click on the link for more information, then print out the Web page on which the card appears.

"It's meant to be for everybody to use," host committee spokeswoman Aileen Rodriguez said. "We want it to be as easy as possible."

A digital version of the card also will be made available through a mobile app the host committee expects to launch in mid July.

The card's offers fall into six categories:

• Arts and culture, which includes offers from the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater and the Dalí Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

• Casual dining, with discounts, free appetizers and free glasses of wine offered by restaurants mostly in or near the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

• Dining — more free appetizers, free desserts and $2 martinis from Tampa Bay area restaurants serving Italian, Brazilian, Latin fusion, seafood, Chinese, Japanese and ThaiMex.

• Things to do, with discounts to, among others, Adventure Island, Busch Gardens, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Lowry Park Zoo, Legoland, the Florida Aquarium and the aquarium at St. Petersburg's Pier.

• Golf, with discounts at courses from Tarpon Springs to Lutz to Brandon.

• Outdoor activities and ecotourism, with deals on charter boat tours, ferry rides to Caledesi Island, tours of Shell Key, deep-sea fishing excursions and rentals of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.

The discount card is the second program the host committee has launched to help local business.

In May, the committee published a directory of more than 500 businesses that signed up to offer everything from fresh flowers to balloons to security to construction services to the state delegations, corporations, lobbying groups and others who will be hosting events during the convention.

Being in the directory won't guarantee anyone a contract, but host committee organizers hope it helps companies compete with the Washington, D.C.-area firms that tend to dominate party planning at national political conventions.

"To the extent that we have a seat at the table," Jones said, "we will be a tireless advocate for local businesses here."

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.