Houston will host the 2028 Republican National Convention, the GOP announced Friday, beating out Miami and Nashville to hold a massive event city officials expect to draw as many as 50,000 people and pump more than $200 million into the local economy.
Houston was named the host city for the presidential nominating confab at the end of the Republican National Committee’s three-day meeting in Milwaukee.
“The 2028 convention will display the very best of Houston, the very best of Texas and the very best of the Republican Party,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee.
McDaniel heaped praise onto Houston’s bid, calling it one of the best she has ever seen. Houston was chosen, in part, because of Texas’ growing Hispanic population and the recent inroads Republicans have made with Hispanic voters in the state, McDaniel said.
McDaniel also thanked Mayor Sylvester Turner for his efforts supporting the bid, “even though he’s a Democrat,” she said.
Houston officials have touted the economic impact the convention is expected to bring during the summer of 2028, a time that generally is slow for travel to the city. The RNC will make a final decision on the dates of the convention at a later time, but it likely will be held in August 2028, according to a Houston First news release.
In a statement Friday, Turner said the convention will provide Houston with a global stage to showcase the city.
“As the nation’s most diverse and inclusive city, we believe Houston represents the future of the United States and our aspirations as a country,” the statement read. “We’re excited to showcase that identity and Houston’s unsurpassed hospitality.”
The convention primarily will be held at Minute Maid Park, Toyota Arena and the George R. Brown Convention Center, according to a framework agreement approved by Houston’s City Council earlier this month.
The 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia drew 54,000 people and generated an estimated $231 million economic impact for that city, according to Houston First. Officials say Houston can expect a similar impact from the event in 2028, although experts say estimates of political convention economic impacts often are overstated.
Houston will not be expected to make a financial investment to host the convention, according to the framework agreement. The city will be expected to provide emergency services and security, although those costs are eligible for reimbursement through an $80 million federal grant, according to the agreement.
A host committee will be formed to raise private funds that will cover additional expenses for hosting the convention, according to the agreement.
“It’s our job at Houston first to book events of all sizes, from Super Bowls to conferences and international events and to keep Houston on the global stage so we can continue to be top of mind as a destination,” Houston First CEO Michael Heckman said. “The Republican National Convention does just that.”
Heckman also noted the RNC’s decision to award the bid five years ahead of time, saying it will give Houston the ability to organize a unique and impressive convention.
Republicans have won every statewide office since 1994, but its large cities, including Houston, are overwhelmingly Democratic. The state has trended purple over the past decade. Former President Donald Trump carried the state in 2016 and 2020, but his 5.58% margin of victory in 2020 was the narrowest for a Republican presidential candidate since 1996.
“Texas continues to be a model for the nation of individual freedom, conservative values, and economic growth, and there’s no better place to experience all the Lone Star State has to offer than the Bayou City,” tweeted U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican and Houston native.
Relations between state Republicans and Houston and Harris County have reached a low point in the years since the 2020 election, as Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, and the GOP-dominated state legislature have had an increasing influence on county elections administration and schooling. The state completed a contentious takeover of the Houston Independent School District earlier this summer, and Harris County currently is suing Texas over a law passed this spring that abolishes the county Elections Administrator’s Office.
“Texas is the heart of the conservative movement,” Abbott wrote in a tweet reacting to the announcement Friday. “Together, we’ll secure Republican victories up and down the ballot and chart a brighter course for our party and our nation.”
Houston has not hosted a convention for either party since the 1992 Republican National Convention was held in the Astrodome, where George H.W. Bush accepted the party’s nomination before going on to lose in the general election to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Democrats last held their national convention in Houston in 1928.
Chicago was chosen as the host city for the 2024 Democratic National Convention over Houston earlier this year. Houston also bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention but lost out to Milwaukee.