2012 Republican Convention may be welcomed by St. Pete, but don’t expect big plans from city

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The City of St. Petersburg is anticipating that its larger hotels such as the Vinoy, the Bayfront Hilton and those spanning out to the beaches, including the Don CeSar and the Tradewinds Resort will be booked for the convention. However, the City of St. Petersburg, as of right now, does not have any specific events planned for this huge influx of visitors.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said that his primary concerns in preparation for the Republican National Convention include an increase in law enforcement presence and sanitation. This would be the same anytime St. Petersburg anticipates more visitors than usual in its city. Beyond this, he hopes that visitors will be able to take in the many great restaurants, museums, galleries, shops and entertainment venues available year-round to all St. Petersburg residents and visitors.

Foster did relay a rumor of an event possibly being planned by the host committee at Tropicana Field that would include delegates and media. This would be in the form of a welcoming event, but as of right now, no one is confirming the rumor.

Since many of the local large hotels are expected to be booked for the occasion, I checked in with a few of them to see if they have made any internal plans or scheduled any events yet for their guests. A representative from the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront said that it was just too early for any plans to be made.

According to the Hilton, they do not yet know which delegates will be staying in their hotel and that any event planning would be at the request of the delegates and guests. They do expect to have much more information available in the late spring or early summer.

I also spoke with Councilmember Karl Nurse last night about any plans the city may have for the convention. Nurse said, “If [Mayor Foster] has any plans for the convention, he hasn’t told the City Council yet.” According to Nurse, he said that he spoke with representatives from St. Paul, Minnesota who hosted the 2008 Republican National Convention, and he gathered information that he passed along to Mayor Foster to help in planning efforts.

Mayor Foster explained that events are costly. Unless an event is designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the city just can’t justify spending money on additional events. If an event is NSSE, there is funding available to support that event—such as the Republican National Convention itself.

Foster and the St. Petersburg Police Department is thinking about security, and Foster said that he isn’t yet aware what will be requested of the police. “Other costs for the delegates that may be staying in St. Petersburg include security that can be purchased through the St. Petersburg Police,” said Foster.

“The hotels will need to pay for any additional security needed for their sites. Any security needed in the form of convoys from hotels through St. Petersburg and to the convention also will need to be covered through the delegates and the convention,” Foster continued.

The City of St. Petersburg along with nearby hotels and restaurants are looking forward with great anticipation for the new visitors coming for the Republican National Convention. The city does expect to be well-prepared, welcoming and will have much to offer visitors. Whether anything specific will be planned for this occasion in St. Petersburg—we will have to wait and see.

Via Daphne Street. You may reach Daphne at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.