CLEVELAND – With the Cavs set to host game six of the finals at home Thursday, the race will be on to get Quicken Loans Arena ready in time for the Republican National Convention. After the game ends, convention crews will begin work early Friday morning and continue working around the clock to transform the Q from a sports arena to a convention hall by July 18, according to a convention spokesperson.
The RNC crews will have about four weeks to do a job that usually takes six, but they’ve been preparing for the potential time crunch, according to National Press Secretary Audrey Scagnelli.
“We’ve really been working as a team to make sure we have a plan in place to use almost every single hour between Friday and the convention, effectively,” Scagnelli said.
Scagnelli said convention officials mapped out the entire arena in preparation. They will have to replace signage with RNC branding, remove seating and build the stage, adjust lighting and audio, and even convert locker rooms into work space, convention officials said.
“Some of what we’ll be doing will be putting up temporary walls, we’ll be repurposing or reusing vendor space,” Scagnelli said.
A spokesperson for the Cleveland Cavaliers said team officials were set to meet Wednesday to determine whether the team would host a watch party at the arena should the Cavs advance to a game 7 Sunday in Oakland. RNC officials said the watch party would be possible but might require some changes from past events.
Outside the arena, Scagnelli said crews will begin building out the Gateway East parking garage by late June. The garage will house staff offices, hospitality spaces and Media Row.
During the convention, Gateway Plaza will transform into Freedom Plaza, with catering and shopping for delegates, while Progressive Field will house a flea market with 22 vendors along its left field line.
“Progressive Field will have 22 vendors that will be selling everything from t-shirts to jewelry, showing off the RNC, the convention, and the City of Cleveland,” Scagnelli said.