The host committee for the 2020 Republican National Convention must pay the Charlotte Hornets $5.5 million to use the Spectrum Center, according to the city’s contract with the Republican National Committee and the local host committee that was released Friday.
The RNC plans to use the Spectrum Center for most of the convention, including the speeches and the official nomination. The city of Charlotte owns the arena, but the Charlotte Hornets have a contract with the city to manage it. The local host committee will pay the Hornets — not the city — for the right to use the arena.
The 2012 Democratic National Convention also was held in the arena, then known as Time Warner Cable Arena. For the DNC, the local host committee paid the-then Charlotte Bobcats $5 million for the building.
The contracts between the city, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the local host committee also gives the GOP access to a number of other venues in the city.
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The GOP could hold events at 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 President Donald Trump could give a campaign-style rally to supporters at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
For the 2012 DNC, Democrats planned to use Charlotte Motor Speedway for a Labor Day event and for President Barack Obama to give his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium. Both events were canceled. Obama gave his acceptance speech inside the arena.
The Republican National Committee officially voted Friday to award the convention to Charlotte. The city released its contracts with the RNC on Friday afternoon.
The host committee must raise roughly $70 million for the convention.
John Lassiter, a Charlotte businessman and 2009 mayoral candidate, is the host committee’s CEO.
There are three co-chairs: Ned Curran, CEO emeritus of Ballantyne owner Northwood Office; Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree; and Walter Price, head of the law firm Moore & Van Allen’s public affairs practice.
There are two significant changes compared with the 2012 DNC contract.
The city expects Congress to give Charlotte a $50 million security grant to cover police expenses during the convention. If that grant isn’t approved by the end of March 2020, the city can terminate the agreement. The host committee would be responsible for reimbursing the city for its expenses up to that point.
In addition, the contract says that if the city’s security costs exceed $50 million, the local host committee will pay those costs.
The contract also says the city must move the transit center to a new location during the convention, as it did during the DNC.
But the agreement is silent about what will happen with the Lynx Blue Line, which runs adjacent to the arena.
In 2012, the Secret Service required the train to stop south of Interstate 277 before it entered uptown.
But the Charlotte Area Transit System recently opened the Blue Line Extension to University City. If the federal government follows the same security plan for 2020, the light-rail line might become two segments that aren’t connected. Trains would stop short of uptown in both directions.