It’s official: RNC 2012 to kickoff in St. Pete with soiree for media


World attention will focus on Tampa for the Republican National Convention from Aug. 27 to 30. But St. Petersburg will get the first shot at media and visitor exposure with a huge kickoff party the night before at Tropicana Field.

Plans for the Aug. 26 gathering have not been finalized, but the event could draw upward of 20,000 people.

The Secret Service on Monday confirmed plans for the kick-off event in Pinellas County that local officials had hinted at but not officially announced.

The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee is organizing social and corporate-business oriented gatherings around the Tampa Bay area during the four days of the convention that designates the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Now the nonpartisan host committee gets an additional venue at Tropicana Field to showcase visitor and business development opportunities in hopes of bolstering the area’s economy for years to come.

The four days of the convention – plus the Aug. 26 event in St. Petersburg – have been collectively designated as a National Special Security Event by the Department of Homeland Security, said Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie. The designation could lead to federal funding to help pay for the security Pinellas County would provide for the Sunday convention kick-off.

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