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Politics / Issues

RNC Adds Air Conditioned Walkways with Flat Screened TVs

Mitt Romney campaigned down Florida’s east coast Monday, but in just two weeks he’ll be camped out on west coast for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Convention preparations are in full swing at the Tampa Bay Times Forum so much so that the weekly news briefing on their progress was held outside.

But, the RNC director of operations, Ryan Price, described the progress to news media.

“We’re in the process of finishing out the stage or the podium as we call it,” Price said. “We’re finishing out the hospitality areas and adapting those so the various groups that are coming in they are built out the way that they want.”

Price was more focused on the outside construction like the quarter-mile long, covered and air conditioned walkway between the Forum and the Tampa Bay Convention Center.

“We realized with the weather that we’re currently feeling and the afternoon rainstorms, we need to provide an option between the two buildings,” Price said. “And to do that, we’re putting up the walkway.”

The walkway is a metal-framed structure covered with heavy white vinyl. It will be lighted and lined with 32-inch flat screen televisions promoting RNC sponsors.

Karl’s Event Services is building the walkway and providing a total of 100,000 square feet of tenting for several RNC venues. Austin Walker, Karl’s national accounts manager, said their crews started working August 1st.

“We’re using our crews from Orlando Florida,” Walker said. “We booked them all out of Orlando and then we’ve brought them here to Tampa.”

So even though he’s not using local workers, Walker said they’re still having an economic impact by booking 260 hotel rooms for the month.

This is the thirteenth political convention for Mike Miller, chief operating officer for the RNC 2012. He said each convention is unique.

“They’re different geographically, facilities wise, etc.,” Miller said. “And so it’s a new challenge every time. If you could pull the same drawings out of the drawer every time, it would get to be pretty routine and pretty boring, but I’ve never found it boring.”

Miller said construction schedules are on time and on budget.