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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Visit San Antonio Sent Letter Urging City to Consider Bid for Republican National Convention

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 5:14 PM

click to enlarge The Trump White House is poised to pull the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, N.C. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
  • The Trump White House is poised to pull the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte, N.C.
The leader of San Antonio's tourism marketing arm sent a letter Saturday to City Manager Erik Walsh probing whether the city — which once declined bidding to host the Republican National Convention — might have a change of heart.

In her letter, Visit San Antonio CEO Casandra Matej pointed out that San Antonio's Alamodome and downtown hotels are available during the August 24-27 convention, which the White House threatened to move out of Charlotte, North Carolina.



"Visit San Antonio, responding to local partners including hotels, restaurants and attractions – all decimated financially this year by the coronavirus pandemic – has begun the process of researching availability to accommodate the convention," she wrote.

A serious bid would also require city interest, she added.

However, a local tourism industry official who asked not to be named said Jacksonville, Florida, has already tied up a deal with the RNC, making Visit San Antonio's request moot.

Visit San Antonio's letter comes after Mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of council declined to chase the convention in 2018, citing costs and the massive security required to host the event.

In a letter responding to Matej, Walsh suggested she take up the matter with her board, adding that "I'm assuming there is a very tight timeline." He also cautioned that the city would need to be mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic were it to stage the event, which is expected to pull 20,000 visitors.

In a text message to the Current, Nirenberg was less diplomatic.

“I see no signs that this is a serious possibility,” he said. “If we get a real proposal, I’ll let you know.”

A Visit San Antonio spokesman said the RNC has contacted neither Visit San Antonio nor the city to inquire about a potential bid.

Beyond the tight timeline and the likelihood Jacksonville has a lock on the convention, it's unclear whether Matej and the industry officials she represents can overcome the same concerns that weighed on city leaders when they declined to bid the first time.

Much of majority-Hispanic San Antonio hasn't taken kindly to Trump for labeling people from Mexico as "rapists" and "drug dealers" and enacting draconian immigration policies. Indeed, during the original process, the RNC was hard pressed to find many cities willing to face the potential embarrassment of hosting a four-day marathon of the Donald Trump Show.

"[The Republican National Committee] is a bit late here, and I think they're having a hard time because of Trump," former Mayor Phil Hardberger told the Current when local business leaders originally tried to gin up interest in a bid. "Cities don't want him. ... I don't think this would be good for San Antonio either, because of the drumbeat of racism that he's promulgated."

And, if anything, that drumbeat has gotten louder since 2018 — deafening, some might say.

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