Jul 5, 2022 - Politics

Metro Council to vote on the RNC in Nashville

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on stage.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Visitors have booked up Nashville hotel rooms at high rates during the same week in July when the Republican National Convention could be coming here in 2024.

By the numbers: Nashville hotels were booked at 79% capacity in 2018, 83% in 2019 and 74% in 2021 in mid-July, according to the hotel industry data firm STR.

Why it matters: The Metro Council will consider legislation tonight to approve an agreement between the city and the RNC on hosting the convention.

  • Approving the agreement wouldn't necessarily mean that Nashville will host the convention, but it is an important legislative step. Milwaukee has already approved a similar deal.
  • Even though the legislation is only on first reading — when bills typically pass so that they can be debated in more detail by committees — there's a reasonable chance council will reject the plan.

What he's saying: Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes has been among the loudest critics of Nashville hosting the RNC. Mendes is worried about security issues, especially since the convention would be hosted in the heart of downtown. Mayor John Cooper has expressed similar reservations.

  • Mendes pointed to the Jan. 6 riots in Washington, D.C., as a cause for concern about violence.
  • "I've visited Milwaukee; it's a lovely city," Mendes said in an interview with a Milwaukee television station last week. "And if the mayor and city council are interested in hosting the RNC convention, go forth and prosper."

The other side: Republican leaders including Gov. Bill Lee have been vocally supportive of Nashville hosting the convention.

Be smart: Though Nashville's tourism industry is typically booming in July, STR senior vice president of consulting and analytics Carter Wilson tells Axios cities still see substantial economic benefits from hosting major conventions like the RNC.

  • "That's obviously a very agnostic statement from me. People might not want certain groups in town for political reasons," Wilson says. "But any kind of major convention in town is certainly helpful."
  • The pandemic disrupted the 2020 political conventions. But in 2016, the RNC generated $188 million in economic benefit to the Cleveland area.
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