Report: Jaguars' Home Stadium TIAA Bank Field Could Be Considered Possible Site for RNC
TIAA Bank Field, the home stadium of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has arisen as a possible site for the upcoming Republican National Convention August 24-27, according to a report from the Washington Post. President Donald Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination for President at the convention.
The RNC first moved the convention from North Carolina to Jacksonville after disagreements with N.C. governor Roy Cooper over social distancing and mask measures. The Jacksonville venue is supposed to be the VyStar Memorial Arena, or as most in Jacksonville know it, the Veterans Memorial Arena.
However, as cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continue to spike in Jacksonville—Florida has the most new cases of any state in the last seven days (70,695)—the convention has been forced to look for other options that allow for more safety measures to be taken.
As such, Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey reported Thursday that organizers are are reportedly looking at the possibilities of using Financial Ballpark, which normally hosts the Jumbo Shrimp minor league baseball team and can seat 11,000, in addition to TIAA Bank Field, which can seat 67,000+. TIAA Bank Field is owned by the Jacksonville City Council so the RNC wouldn't be dealing with the Jaguars to rent the venue.
The current location for the convention is VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, but it remains to be seen if the convention will remain an indoors event due to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. Current state restrictions would prohibit Veterans Memorial Arena from being filled past 50%. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has also now enacted a mandatory mask requirement in the city for both indoor and outdoor locations.
This comes on the heels of the Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla. on June 20. Following the rally attended by 6,200 supporters, the Tulsa Health Department reported a spike in cases around the time the incubation period would cause symptoms to arise. However, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CNN every attendee had their temperature checked and mask as well as ample hand sanitizer was provided. Officials hope those measures, along with the outside venue, will provide more protection for those in attendance and many traveling from out of town.
During an interview with Greta Van Susteren on July 8, Trump said he is "flexible" on the RNC location. He added the location and venue size will depend on what the state's case count does in the coming weeks.
As Dawsey points out, there are also issues that arise with holding any outdoor event in Florida during the month of August. There is the heat and the likely possibility of rain. The average August temperature in Jacksonville is 90 degrees with weather coming off of the water. For those living in this climate, this is normal and doesn't typically cause issues. But many of the RNC attendees are expected to be coming from out of town and even state, from areas where this is not the norm.
As of right now, the Jaguars still have a preseason game scheduled for August 29 at TIAA Bank Field against Washington. That would give stadium staff two days to clean up and disinfect the stadium. However, the NFLPA has asked the NFL to cancel all preseason games and start the season as scheduled on Labor Day Weekend.