Boston D-Party Impacts Tampa — And Media

Two points regarding Tampa’s bid for the 2004 Republican convention:

Make no mistake, Thursday’s news that Boston had won the Democratic convention was significant for Tampa.

Not determinative or decisive, mind you, but very important. Had New York outbid Boston, Tampa’s chances for the 2004 GOP convention — with all of its media exposure and 9-figure economic impact — certainly would have improved — a lot. No way that New York, 9/11 notwithstanding, hosts both the Democratic and Republican conventions. New Orleans, for what it’s worth, is a consensus third.

Needless to say, New York state is odds-on to once again keep its electoral votes solidly in the Democratic column. Florida, a king-making swing state, is odds-on to, say, tilt Republican. The 2000 race remains a graphic reminder that Florida is not only critical, but combustible and maybe closely called again.

As a result, given Tampa’s facilities, affordability, security management, favorable impression made on the GOP site selection committee, proximity to beaches and Disney World, some unabashed payback for 2000 and electoral insurance for ’04, Tampa’s shot is a very viable one. That Jeb Bush has family in high places hardly hurts.

Had New York outbid Boston for the Democratic convention, Tampa’s chances would have been better than good.

Thus, the Boston D-party’s impact on Tampa.

So how was it that the Tampa Tribune buried that story on page 11? It was a bare bones Associated Press account that carried the pedestrian head: “Boston Set To Have ’04 Convention.” It included a couple of pro forma quotes from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe. That was it.

The St. Petersburg Times saw the regional implications as meriting page one, above-the-fold status. It carried the head: “Tampa’s Convention Bid Gets Tougher.”

Two points: First, either someone at the Trib was comatose — not just asleep — on the news-judgment job or the Trib allowed itself — again — to get beat on a story with a lot of local import. Either way, it’s unconscionable. Even if the following day’s lead editorial was almost fulsome in its chamber of commerce praise of Tampa as the perfect GOP choice.

Second, the Times deemed the convention piece worthy of placement above the latest details on the war on terror. Arguably, the Dems-to-Boston story wasn’t that important, but it certainly didn’t deserve a page 11 burial.

The Times , of course, sees a Tampa GOP convention that also impacts, well, the Times . It paid a lot — in dollars and ethical potshots — to put its name on the erstwhile Ice Palace. It can recoup some of that $33-million investment — and marketing rationale — if George W. Bush is renominated in the St. Pete Times Forum. The nation — and a lot of vested interests around the world — will watch his coronation at the ultimate forum for the St. Pete Times . Whether the Times can recoup its Poynter Palace ethics hit, however, will remain problematic.

Should the GOP convene here — in the very state that delivered the presidency to the Republicans in 2000 — many interests, from civic to political to economic, will benefit. Some more than others.

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