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Mayor Curry: Jacksonville does things ‘big & bold’ & ‘we’ll be ready’ for convention

Here are some other big events the city has hosted

Twitter: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry
Twitter: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Not long after Jacksonville was announced to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for re-election, a video featuring Mayor Lenny Curry was posted on Twitter.

“Jacksonville, I know what you’re thinking. Are we big enough, bold enough to host the RNC?” Curry says in the video. “What city would take on the Republican National Convention with just 75 days to pull it off? Probably not many, but Jacksonville isn’t just any city. Here in the River City, we do things big and bold, and we’ll be ready.”

During a News4Jax Facebook Live conversation on Thursday night, a number of viewers shared concerns over how Jacksonville will handle such a large event. Others were looking forward to it, comparing the event to 2005 when Jacksonville hosted the Super Bowl, when 100,000 visitors filled the streets of downtown.

The River City became the smallest city ever to host a Super Bowl. To handle the lack of hotel space, five cruise ships were docked along the St. Johns River. Approximately 800 buses were used as shuttles.

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But you don’t have to travel back 15 years to see other large events hosted in Northeast Florida. Since 1892, The Players Championship has been held at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra. The four day event brings in an estimate $151 million for Northeast Florida, raising a record $9.25 million in 2019 for charity.

In 2016, The Players executive director said nearly 55% of ticket purchases originated for outside Northeast Florida’s five county area

In January, nearly 62,000 fans packed TIAA Bank Field for the Gator Bowl between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Indiana Hoosiers. Organizers say the game provides nearly $16 million to Northeast Florida, with more than $500,000 donated to local charities.

When it was announced last fall that the Florida-Georgia rivalry would stay in Jacksonville until at least 2023, there was a collective sigh nearly as loud as the crowd that packs TIAA Bank Field every year for the game. In 2018, the city said the sellout crowd of more than 83,000 people brought more than $30 million to the area.

The executive director of the Duval GOP said it will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. with more information about the convention coming to Jacksonville.

Extra security for President Trump’s convention speech

Security for a national presidential convention isn’t easy. There’s general security, protection of the candidate and expected to be protests and demonstrations.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson was the spokesperson for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office when the city hosted the Super Bowl in 2005, and he said the two events are similar in the amount of security required.

Security a major concern for Jacksonville as the RNC prepares to come to town
Security a major concern for Jacksonville as the RNC prepares to come to town

“It has the propensity to be a logistical nightmare as far as planning,” Jefferson said. “They can pull it off. They’ve got to solicit help from local authorities, state as well as federal from all over the United States."

The former police officer added that a major different between the two events is that there were many months of planning ahead of the Super Bowl. With the last minute switch, Jacksonville leaders will only have a two-and-a-half months.

“If it does land here, they’ve got to already be working on it and work throughout the time it takes to get here,” Jefferson said. “A lot of help from a lot of people.”


About the Authors:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.