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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

GOP on schedule with prepping Tampa Bay Times forum for RNC Convention



TAMPA -- More than 3,000 seats have been removed from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in preparation for the Aug. 27-30 Republican National Convention.

The foundation for the stage in which Mitt Romney will accept his party's nomination has been built. And the center camera stand in which TV cameras will beam the coronation out to the nation is under construction.

All of that was built in the first of six weeks of the $20 million prep job needed to turn the Forum into centerstage for the Republican Party.

"We're on schedule," said Mike Miller, the RNC's chief operating officer. "I'm not aware of any issues."

Among the tasks to begin this week are the high steel rigging, in which at least three specialized workers will affix heavy equipment to the top of the Forum. Ultimately, more than 200,000 pounds of lighting and speaker equipment must be affixed to the ceiling.

Some of it can be reached by the catwalk that hangs 95 feet above the Forum floor. But much of the roof can't be reached by the catwalk. So three "super riggers" from the Torrance, Calif. firm Rope Access Technologies will climb beams to install some of the cables that will support the equipment.

The highest beams reach about 130 feet above the floor. The riggers are highly-specialized and have the same skills as mountain-climbers, said Phil Alongi, the convention's executive producer.

"It's dangerous work, but only if you're not experienced," Alongi said.

[Last modified: Monday, July 23, 2012 11:58am]


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