TAMPA — Major work began Monday on preparing the Tampa Bay Times Forum for Mitt Romney's nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.
"It's 40 days and 40 nights before we launch," announced Republican National Convention Chairman Alex Poitevint during a Monday afternoon news conference. "And it will probably rain each one of those days."
The $20 million project will have an average of 200 to 300 workers on site any given day. On Monday, workers had begun many tasks, including the removal and storage of some 3,000 seats. That will help create room for the stage, about 58 feet wide and 40 feet deep, where Romney will give his acceptance speech.
It will go on the same side of the forum as the locker rooms, which will be used for backstage operations and as green rooms.
The seat removal also will allow space for a four-tiered platform for television cameras and news photographers, as well as two news media platforms with slightly more than 300 seats, plus about 30 individual standup reporting positions for television broadcasters.
Other early tasks include installing the rigging, sound and lights for the convention, scheduled for Aug. 27 to 30.
The lights will not just illuminate the stage. That's because the delegates make news, too, so the lighting on the convention floor needs to be broadcast-quality.
"There's a real energy here," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "Tampa Bay has truly welcomed us."