1. Florida Politics

Fox News nabs Tampa Bay History Center as convention headquarters

Published Jun. 28, 2012

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay History Center and Fox News Channel have struck a deal.

The museum gets a national spotlight. The network nabs prime footage, directly behind the Tampa Bay Times Forum during the Republican National Convention.

"We are their headquarters for the duration," Manny Leto, the History Center's director of marketing, said Wednesday.

He anticipates broadcasts from the History Center "will follow the action" during the Aug. 27-30 convention.

Leto would not reveal how much Fox is paying to rent the 60,000-square-foot museum, but the deal must be sweet enough for the museum to close its doors to the public starting Aug. 21. That will allow time to set up reporting stations and news desks in TECO Hall, the atrium and the upper terrace overlooking a nearby park and the Times Forum.

Still unknown, Leto said, is whether the museum will fall within the Secret Service's security perimeter. If so, it would be closed during the convention anyway.

"I don't think they're 100 percent sure yet," he said of the perimeter's final boundaries.

Plans already were for most History Center employees to work from home during the convention. "Other than facilities people and some curatorial staff, pretty much everyone else will be on-call status," he said.

The third floor is already closed, Leto noted, empty since a six-month touring exhibition ended. "It will remain dark for the summer for their use as part of the rental agreement," he said.

Permanent exhibitions on the first and second floors won't be affected.

Food will be provided by the Columbia restaurant, which holds a long-term catering contract with the museum.

A Fox News spokeswoman said details about the network's plans are pending.

The History Center opened in January 2009 on the edge of downtown Tampa's Channel District.

Attendance averages 50,000 to 60,000 annual visitors.

"This is a great opportunity for the History Center and a great way to highlight the history of our city and our region," said C.J. Roberts, its president and CEO.