Nashville Mayor John Cooper says the city has no money to host the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Nashville during his COVID-19 news conference Thursday.
The issue of hosting the RNC came up earlier this week when the host state of North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper expressed public safety concerns about holding such a large-scale event during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reported The Washington Times.
In the past, Nashville has had financial woes, due to years of poor management, which has only been exacerbated by the March 3 tornadoes and the coronavirus economic shutdown.
Cooper announced Thursday that the Music City will remain in Phase Two of the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville with daily monitoring of the public health benchmarks to start Phase Three as soon as it is safely possible.
In addition to a projected revenue shortage of $215.8 million during the current 2019-2020 fiscal year, Cooper’s budget also estimates a negative revenue impact of $280.6 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Despite these known revenue losses, Cooper’s budget proposal does not reduce the current year’s budget for the estimated shortfall in this year’s budget and instead includes an increase of $115.9 million for 2020-2021.
To accommodate his budget, Cooper has proposed a 32 percent property tax increase, which is strongly opposed by at least two Nashville-based grassroots groups, LowTax4Nash.com and NoTax4Nash.com, The Tennessee Star reported.
Cooper wanted to “be clear” that Nashville’s current health protocols, which have been carefully established and publicly identified, would not support the RNC which is scheduled more than two months out, from August 24 to 27.
While Cooper said that there’s certainly no money available for hosting the event, he did not address the millions of dollars of local financial impact and what it might do for Nashville’s economy that suffered the steepest COVID-19 consumer spending drop in the nation, as reported by The Star.
For the 2016 RNC host city of Cleveland, Ohio, the region saw as much as $188.4 million of economic benefit, WCPO 9 reported.
According to Money magazine, the previous two Republican nominating conventions resulted in direct spending of nearly $154 million for St. Paul in 2014 and $214 million in Tampa Bay in 2012.
Political conventions not only provide their host cities short-term financial infusions but platforms for long-term impact due to the increased media coverage leading up to and just after the conventions, WCPO 9 also said.
Cooper did not elaborate on what expenses he expected Nashville to incur or the amount. He also did not discuss what role the Metro Nashville Convention Center Authority (CCA) could potentially play in hosting the RNC.
A February 2019 report shows that the CCA anticipated an operating surplus of $58 million in the fiscal year 2020.
The direct economic impact of all of the CCA’s 236 planned events for 2020 was estimated at $543 million.
Even based on the RNCs lowest contributions to the host city’s local economy in recent years, Nashville could stand to gain as much as a quarter of the estimated economic impact by hosting the one RNC event.
Governor Bill Lee has said his office is in discussions about moving the convention to Nashville.
“We would certainly be interested in welcoming that to our city,” Lee said. It would be a great opportunity for us to build upon the economic recovery that’s already occurring,” reported WKRN News 2.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention, while delayed from its original dates in July to the week of August 17, due to COVID-19, will still be held at the Fiserv Forum in the Democrat stronghold city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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