GOP not worried about convention protests, weather - FOX 13 News

GOP not worried about convention protests, weather


When the Grand Ole Party comes to town next summer, about 15,000 journalists will be here to cover it. Many of them got their first look at the facilities Tuesday.

"I think today and part of the day tomorrow this is really about working with the media and the logistics, and starting a good relationship with all of you," said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Organizers met in Tampa with hundreds of reporters, producers and engineers from around the country and around the world.

"It looks very good. It looks like any international conference location, APEC or G-20. Yeah, it looks good," said Fujimura Tomoyoshi, with NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

He and the other journalists are staking out their space at the forum, and it'll come at a premium. Luxury boxes will be turned into mini-studios; others will have to be built. The going price runs anywhere from $19,000 to $26,000.

And broadcasting next year's live convention to an international audience will have some new and unique challenges.

"Everything is always different. But it's a wonderful facility. You get things like the separation between the convention center and the St. Pete Times Forum," said Bill Harris, Convention CEO.

So, organizers plan to build a covered walkway and run shuttles to get people back and forth quickly. They'll need to build a huge data network too. It'll take more cables, fiber connections and electricity to pull off the convention, than anything else ever held in Florida.

Around 50,000 people are expected to come to the Tampa Bay area for the convention, including 5,000 to 6,000 delegates, 15,000 media members and possibly 10,000 protesters.

Officials said it was too early to discuss the specifics of security plans, which may have to take into account larger-than-normal demonstrations spurred by the recent Occupy Wall Street movement.

A "security perimeter" around the downtown arena will be established, but Harris said it was too early to determine the boundaries or how close to the venue the designated area for demonstrators would be located.

And then there's the weather. The convention is held during hurricane season. But organizers downplayed any concerns.

"You always have contingencies for everything," said convention CEO Bill Harris, who has participated in planning for 10 previous Republican party conventions. "But the weather is going to be great."

History may back that prediction up: the Tampa area hasn't had a direct hit from a hurricane since 1921, although Hurricane Charley caused catastrophic damage when it slammed into Punta Gorda, 100 miles south, in August 2004.

The Aug. 27-30 convention, which will select the GOP presidential nominee, will be the first political convention in Florida since Miami Beach hosted both party conventions in 1972.

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