The Republican National Convention, which begins Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, and runs for four days, will attract an estimated 50,000 visitors, including 2,470 delegates, 2,302 alternate delegates and 15,000 credentialed media.
The GOP’s Cleveland Host Committee aimed to raise $64 million to fund the event. Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Ohio have collectively contributed $15 million to that total. But, as of last Thursday, the GOP was millions short of their goal after losing $8.1 million from corporations and individuals who revoked their pledges. Among the biggest former donors are David Koch ($1 million), Coca-Cola ($1 million), FedEx ($500,000), Pepsi ($500,000), United Health ($500,000), Apple ($250,000), Visa ($100,000) and BP ($50,000).
Slideshow: Cleveland on the Eve of the Convention
While quite a few prominent GOP lawmakers are avoiding the convention, thousands of Americans are not – and they’re ready to protest. In addition to regular protests against long-standing elements of the Republican platform, there will be plenty of both pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups on hand. As we explain here, Cleveland is increasingly worried about Black Lives Matter protests and security in general in the wake of the recent attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
As of July 1, 10,867 people were registered to protest with permits to march, rally and demonstrate. But many protestors haven’t bothered to apply for permits. Adding to the security concern is Ohio’s open-carry law, which allows people to walk around with loaded handguns and long guns. Gov. Kasich rejected the Cleveland police’s request that he suspend open-carry for the week, ostensibly because he didn’t have the unilateral authority to waive the law. Members of the New Black Panther Party have announced their intentions to protest in Cleveland with weapons.
The federal government has provided a $50 million grant to the cities hosting presidential conventions. Protest insurance has gobbled up $9.5 million of that grant, more than five times the $1.2 million spent by Tampa in 2012. The rest of the money is paying for personnel and equipment, including 3,000 federal officers and 2,000 out-of-state officers who will join 500 Cleveland officers in patrolling the streets. Cleveland’s Municipal Court has expanded its hours from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. in anticipation of processing 1,000 people each day, and the city is buying miles of steel barriers and thousands of sets of riot gear, including full-body suits.
Cities vie to host presidential conventions because thousands of visitors typically pour money into their economies. The 2008 RNC generated more than $153 million in total direct economic impact in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson estimates that the city itself will receive only a quarter of the money spent at the convention, mostly through sales tax. Most of the money spent will go to private businesses, especially hotels.
Assuming the GOP manages to reach its fund-raising goal for the convention, and assuming there are no security emergencies or other unforeseen events, that puts the total cost of the convention at about $114 million, with taxpayers picking up about half of it.