Jacksonville poised to host portion of RNC but no confirmation from officials yet

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — We could learn in a matter of hours if Jacksonville will host a portion of the 2020 Republican National Convention.

A source told Action News Jax that top RNC leadership was in town Monday touring the VyStar Veterans Memorial arena. Action News Jax also checked with three prominent downtown hotels plus the Omni in Amelia Island you can’t book rooms for the week of Aug. 24- 27.

The booking websites don’t offer an explanation as to why that week is blocked off, but you can book rooms for other dates.

Despite those signs, the RNC pushed back on Wednesday on a Washington Post report that said Jacksonville was “tentatively” chosen.

Duval GOP chairman Dean Black said hosting a portion of the convention would be good for Jacksonville.

“It puts us even more on the map. Jacksonville is a battleground county, in the battleground state, in a pivotal election,” said Black.

But the Duval Democratic Party chairman Daniel Henry said he's concerned.

“I think it’s going to be very divisive. I think it’s going to be very dramatic in terms of people that are going to show up and I’m very concerned about civil unrest,” said Henry.

Henry said further spread of COVID19 is also a concern. He said the DNC is taking precautions.

“We’re doing the best that we can for our convention to live up to what we’ve been saying all along that people should socially distance that people should take precautions with this virus,” said Henry.

Black said if the RNC comes to Jacksonville, the pandemic will be taken into consideration but referred us to the RNC for details.

"We have to plan responsibly. You have a local governance here with a demonstrated history of handling every challenge thrown their way responsibly through two hurricanes, through a pandemic," said Black.

According to Black, the convention could bring a $100 million impact to the city. Action News Jax has also learned the hotel vacancy issue likely won’t be a hang up because the greater Jacksonville area which includes Amelia Island has about 26,000 rooms available rooms plus vacation rentals.

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