RNC 2020

Everything you need to know for the 2020 RNC in Charlotte

Mecklenburg GOP celebrates impending RNC announcement

The Mecklenburg County Republican Party hosts a Summer Celebration in anticipation of Charlotte being awarded the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Up Next
The Mecklenburg County Republican Party hosts a Summer Celebration in anticipation of Charlotte being awarded the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Charlotte won its second national convention in a decade on July 20, 2018 kicking off two years of planning, fundraising and anticipation when the Republican National Committee formally awarded the 2020 event.

That capped a dramatic week in which the Charlotte City Council agreed to host the convention Monday by a single vote. Four Democrats joined two Republicans in support. Five Democrats voted no.

Charlotte will likely be the city where President Donald Trump is nominated for a second term. He would accept the nomination in Spectrum Center, where his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, launched his own bid for another term in 2012.

In a 6 to 5 vote, City Council supports hosting the RNC and Mayor calls for unity.

When will RNC 2020 be held?

The convention will be held July or August 2020. No final decision has been made. Democrats already have scheduled their 2020 convention for July 13-16. Republicans might want to wait until after the summer Olympics, which run from July 24-Aug. 9.

Charlotte City Council District 3 representative LaWana Mayfield says her driving force is that Charlotte stays a welcoming community. She says that her district is majority minority and that she has to represent the entire community when she votes.

Where will it be?

Most of the events will likely be at Spectrum Center, the venue where Democrats held their national convention in 2012. (The host committee must pay the Charlotte Hornets $5.5 million for its use.) The GOP will also have access to Ovens Auditorium, Bojangles’ Coliseum, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Convention Center during the convention. The Convention Center will likely be used for the media, as it was in 2012. The Hall of Fame will likely host a number of parties. It’s possible Trump could give a campaign-style rally to supporters at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

The Democrats had also planned for Obama to deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium. But with the weather forecast calling for thunderstorms, the speech moved to Time Warner Cable Arena (Now called Spectrum Center.) Republicans at the time said the campaign couldn’t fill seats at the football stadium. The weather was good that night. Whether any RNC events would be held at the stadium remains to be seen. New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has been highly critical of Trump.

How much will it cost?

Local business leaders and elected officials need to raise $70 million for the 2020 Republican National Convention. But that might not be as challenging as what Charlotte’s 2012 Democratic National Convention host committee faced. Six years ago, that group fell about $10 million short of reaching its fundraising goals, in part because of contribution restrictions. Now, the RNC Host Committee in Charlotte is preparing to hire staff and launch its own fundraising blitz. The budget is $63.6 million, with the goal of $70 million added in to account for contingencies. The group expects to spend $27.6 million for convention facilities, $8.4 million for event production, $2.4 million for office space, $1.2 million for headquarters hotel space, $1.8 million on hospitality and $2.4 million on transportation services, among other categories.

Who will raise that money?

Security expenses will be covered by an expected $50 million federal grant, with the committee reimbursing the city of Charlotte for expenses that go beyond that. But the RNC’s host committee — made up of local business and elected officials — would raise money for the costs above the federal grant. The city can terminate the agreement if the grant doesn’t come through by March 2020, unless the city and the host committee can find alternative funding. If the city ultimately cancels the agreement because the grant wasn’t issued by that deadline, the host committee would cover the city’s costs up to that point.

Mayor Vi Lyles and City Attorney Robert E. Hagemann open meeting about voting on bringing RNC to Charlotte

Who is on the host committee?

John Lassiter, a Charlotte businessman, former City Council member and 2009 mayoral candidate, has been named the host committee’s CEO. The group has lined up a roster of prominent names in the Charlotte business world as co-chairs: Ned Curran, CEO emeritus of Ballantyne owner Northwood Office, Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, and Walter Price, head of law firm Moore & Van Allen’s public affairs practice.

Other committee members are Novant Health president and CEO Carl Armato; BB&T’s Metrolina Regional President Wes Beckner; Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari; former UNC president and White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles; Springs Creative Products Group CEO Derick Close; Novant Health’s chief consumer officer Jesse Cureton; Charlotte City Councilman Edmund H. Driggs; Good Fellows president Mac Everett; Founder and CEO of ClearPath Foundation Jay Faison; Duke Energy president and CEO Lynn Good; Lincoln Harris CEO Johnny Harris and his son, chief operating officer Johno Harris; Coca-Cola Bottling Co. senior vice president Kimberly Kuo; Foundation for the Carolinas president and CEO Michael Marsicano; Charlotte City Councilman James Mitchell, Jr.; Charlotte Chamber president and CEO Bob Morgan; commercial real estate appraiser and broker John Kenneth Powell, Jr.; Rodgers Builders CEO Pat Rodgers; Speedway Motorsports president and COO Marcus Smith; Bank of America chief administration officer Andrea Smith; and Atrium Health president and CEO Gene Woods.

Will the convention make money for businesses in the city?

The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte injected $91 million in new spending into the local economy, for a total economic impact of nearly $164 million, according to a 2013 consultant’s report. The report said it accounted for the fact that much of the hotel industry’s profits didn’t stay in Charlotte. It was the city’s largest and most expensive convention.

Economic impact, however, is likely to be focused on the hospitality sector — hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, caterers — and even those benefits can be unevenly spread and must be balanced against the potential of other lost business.

“Money isn’t going to be falling from the sky for everybody,” said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte. “The economic benefits are very concentrated.” For example, uptown restaurants that rely on foot traffic from weekday workers might find their sales hurt if tens of thousands of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy employees stay home to avoid the security cordon. Business from convention-goers might make up for that, but not necessarily.

I work uptown. What should I expect?

Workers and residents can expect lots of changes — and some headaches — in and around uptown during the event, from street closures to security checkpoints to commutes that could get longer.

Staff writers Ely Portillo and Deon Roberts contributed.

Have more questions? Email reporter Cassie Cope: ccope@charlotteobserver.com.