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What The RNC Bid Documents Tell Us About The 2020 Convention In Charlotte

Erin Keever
Photo from inside the Time Warner Cable Arena (now the Spectrum Center) during the 2012 DNC.

Following a weeks-long public debate, a heated city council meeting and a final stamp of approval that came Friday, Charlotte will host the 2020 Republican National Convention. But, throughout the debate, city leaders were tight-lipped on details of the event contracts. Now, bid documents and signed agreements give a deeper understanding of how the convention will be run, planned and paid for.

Here’s a break-down:

What documents were made public?

On July 20 — the same day the RNC announced that Charlotte had been chosen — the city released a series of documents. Those included: a signed arena licensing agreement for the use of facilities like the Spectrum Center, a signed framework agreement (between local government, city tourism and the Republican National Committee) and emails from constituents. They also included the entire bid Charlotte submitted to host the event, which outlines event details: who will spearhead the planning, the role of different agencies and how the convention will be paid for.

Who’s planning this event?

All of the planning and organization of this event will be led by the host committee. Charlotte businessman and former City Council member John Lassiter has been named the host committee chief executive. Other prominent business and political leaders make up the committee's leadership. The host committee’s biggest job will be fundraising.

How much will the convention cost and who’s paying for it?

The RNC will be paid for by fundraising, with the host committee’s goal to raise $70 million to cover all expenses. The estimated budget for the event is close to $64 million, with the extra money serving as a safety buffer.

The budget is broken down in the bid document, with $27 million going to the use of the Spectrum Center for the convention. Some other expenses include $2.4 million for transportation and $2.4 million for insurance.

The $64 million budget is based off the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The expenses are similarly broken down, but the fundraising requirements have been increased by 20 percent — adjusted for increased costs over the last eight years. The budget is also centered on the use of the Spectrum Center for the convention. If the RNC asks to use Bank of America Stadium, the numbers could change, according to officials.

The committee will attempt to raise a large bulk of the $70 million fundraising goal in the next three fiscal quarters, or by June 2019.

What is the city of Charlotte responsible for?

According to the framework agreement, Charlotte is in charge of things like security, permits and transportation. The city is expected to receive a $50 million federal grant to cover all security expenses, but should the grant fall through there is an exit clause.

The host committee has also agreed to reimburse any additional costs the city spends on security unless local law enforcement wants to keep any new equipment bought for the event.

Will fundraising for the 2020 RNC be similar to the 2012 DNC?

There were complications with DNC fundraising. The host committee in 2012 was limited in its fundraising efforts by caps on personal contributions and restrictions on corporate sponsorships. The Democratic committee fell about $10 million short of its goal and had to utilize an $8 million line of credit from Duke Energy — $6 million of which was never repaid.  

The host committee for the RNC isn’t bound by any corporate restrictions. CEO John Lassiter said they’ve already raised “more than 10 percent” of their $70 million goal. He also said they will “be careful what they spend” and will run the committee “like it's [their own personal] money and [their own personal] business.”

Will the economic benefits of the RNC be felt by Charlotte’s minority community?

Bid documents state the host committee will try to “promote inclusivity” by making financial partnerships with “small, minority and women’s businesses” in Charlotte. Lassiter said the committee plans to “reach deeply into the diverse marketplace,” but hasn’t made any specific promises on that initiative.

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