GOP Convention: Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Six of the eight honorary co-chairs of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee named at a news conference Monday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Left to Right) former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.
TAMPA (2012-3-13) -

There's a rising discussion on whether Tampa Bay residents should stay in the region or head out on vacation the last week of August when the area hosts the Republican National Convention that could attract as many as 50,000 people.

Members of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee equate hosting the political convention as second only to hosting the Olympics when it comes to gaining national and international exposure with long-lasting economic impact.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, an honorary co-chair of the host committee, said he does not plan to waste the opportunity that will attract close to 15,000 members of the media.

“The message we’re giving our citizens is that the Host Committee has done its job,” Cretekos said at a Monday news conference. “Our job is to make sure that these people come back and come back and come back. That will be the mark of a good convention.”

Yet, some residents may choose to leave so they're not inconvenienced by the traffic and increased security. That kind of approach concerns Ken Jones, president of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee.

“People keep telling everybody go on vacation during the week of the convention,” Jones said when asked to comment on county plans to move its main operations out of downtown Tampa. “We keep telling them, no don’t go on vacation come to the restaurants, eat out make sure you spend money that week.”

However, Jones noted his take differs from that of the police chief and mayor who are privy to more information about security.

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