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Free up cash now, city tells county

City Council members voted Thursday to ask County Commissioners to free up money promised to repair the roof at the Tampa Convention Center.

"We need to have that roof fixed," said council member Mary Alvarez.

The Convention Center attracts events that benefit the whole county, she said.

"It's time for them to stop playing games and get on with the fixing of this roof," she said. "I will go to the County Commission myself if I have to."

Commissioners voted in September to earmark $6-million in tourist tax money to fix the roof. But they said they wouldn't release the money until the city either began giving financial support to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team or Aug. 1, 2007, whichever came first.

City officials are negotiating with Lightning representatives, but at a council meeting in October, City Attorney David Smith said it's not likely the money for the roof will be available until August.

Meanwhile, the roof has more than 30 leaks. A severe thunderstorm hit during a supercomputing conference last month, and convention organizers spent hours running around with buckets, trash cans and plastic sheets trying to catch water and cover expensive computer equipment.

"This has got to stop," Alvarez said. "This money has got to be released."