Friday, June 22, 2018
Opinion

Working with Tampa Bay to make convention a success

Today, the Republican National Convention moves into the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the countdown to making Tampa Bay history is officially on. A small army of carpenters, electricians, glass installers, movers, painters, stagehands, steel fabricators and laborers will go to work, and together they'll turn a well-known hockey venue into one of America's greatest icons of democracy: the site of a national political convention.

The Times Forum already has a proud history, having hosted everything from concerts to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, which saw the Tampa Bay Lightning win professional hockey's Holy Grail in the seventh game over the Calgary Flames.

Nothing in its 16-year history, though, compares in size or scope to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Nearly 50,000 people are expected to take part in the convention, including 15,000 media representatives who will shine the world's spotlight on the Times Forum.

An event of this magnitude involves countless details, and planning for the convention has been ongoing for more than a year and half. Now, with just over 40 days until the opening gavel, we're about to mobilize hundreds of skilled craftsmen and construction workers who will bring our best-laid plans to fruition.

It will take tens of thousands of man hours to get the Times Forum ready, and the many laborers required for the big transformation will bring tremendous job opportunities and economic benefits to Tampa Bay area residents.

The construction jobs required only tell part of the story. Throughout our planning for the convention, we've made every effort to tap into the truly impressive pool of talent here in Tampa Bay. Our production support teams will be made up of local workers. Even the folks who do our closed-captioning and sign language translations will be from Tampa Bay.

Much of the glass, fencing, tents and lumber for construction will be locally provided. We will use at least 1,200 sheets of plywood alone. We will also obtain scores of forklifts, scooters and golf carts from right here in Tampa Bay.

I have been involved in the planning of eleven national political conventions, and we always strive to leave the host facility in better shape than when we arrived. In the case of the Times Forum, our engineers will add a new door to the Channelside perimeter wall. We'll expand power capacity by two megawatts and install a permanent new subpanel to make electrical distribution more efficient. Meanwhile, miles of fiber optic cable will connect the Times Forum and the Tampa Convention Center, which will serve as workspace for most of the media covering the convention.

The Times Forum recently invested $45 million to improve the facility, making it one of the nation's premiere venues. Steps will be taken to protect the facility. In the days ahead, our teams will carefully remove the fine wooden doors of the hospitality suites that will become anchor booths for major television networks. The doors will be stored safely in climate-controlled facilities and temporarily replaced. The rich lacquered floors of the newly redesigned suites will be protected by a layer of plywood flooring, which will then be covered with wall-to-wall-carpeting.

The most visible part of any national political convention, of course, is the balloon drop, and even the balloon drop this year will be the work of Tampa Bay residents. Student volunteers at Gaither High School will have the important job of blowing up thousands of red, white and blue balloons that will fill the Times Forum with dazzling color on the night Mitt Romney and his running mate accept the party's nomination.

The event will come to a close when we officially nominate the 40th Republican national ticket. After that night, the Times Forum will no longer just be home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but forever a place in our nation's political history that played a role in selecting the next president of the United States. It is a privilege and an honor to continue to work alongside the people of Tampa Bay as we make history together.

William Harris is CEO of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2012 Republican National Committee.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18