Report: Republicans exploring holding RNC in Jacksonville outdoor stadium

One local source told News4Jax there is no truth to the report.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Republican officials are exploring the possibility of hosting next month’s Republican National Convention in one of two outdoor stadiums in downtown Jacksonville, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Post reported that several Republican officials “are studying two outdoor professional sports stadiums near the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena where the convention is currently slated to be held.”

A local source told News4Jax on Thursday afternoon there is no truth to the report. News4Jax also checked with city officials, but we have yet to receive a reply.

Two Republicans involved in the planning told The Post that officials are looking at the overall logistics of hosting an outdoor convention.

The stadiums being explored are TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and 121 Financial Ballpark, home of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball team. Republican officials recently toured both sites while in Jacksonville, according to The Post.

President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to give his acceptance speech marking his party’s nomination to run for reelection, said earlier this week that plans for the RNC are “flexible.”

For now, the event is set to be held inside the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds about 15,000 people, despite blowback from some in the community.

On Monday, a group of more than 70 pastors sent a letter to Mayor Lenny Curry, arguing against bringing the convention to Jacksonville. That letter comes after the mayor’s office received a letter from nearly 200 physicians, saying the RNC should be postponed.

The convention has announced it will conduct daily tests of those attending the event.

According to The Post, Trump was briefed on the possibility of moving the convention outside and could make a decision soon.

The CDC has said that large in-person gatherings where it is difficult to socially distance with and where attendees travel from outside the local area can lead to the highest risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Health officials have said the chances of contracting the virus decrease when people are outside.

The president’s renomination celebration was to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, but it was moved to Jacksonville after a disagreement over health measures.

Florida passed another grim milestone Thursday as the Department of Health reported another 120 people have died in the state from COVID-19.

That was the highest single-day increase in deaths since the pandemic began up in Florida on March 1. According to News4Jax tracking of FDOH’s daily reports, 83 death reported on April 28 was the previous daily peak.

Four of the most recent deaths were in Duval County, bringing the total to 74. Duval County added 589 new cases of coronavirus to push Jacksonville over 11,000. The percent of tests that came back positive in Jacksonville on Wednesday was 20.9% -- the first time its rate had surpassed 20%.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.