Mark Ferguson, owners of Ferg's across the street from Tropicana Field, got his first whiff of Republican National Convention security about a month ago.
"We had the FDA in here checking food. Isn't that weird?" he said Wednesday. "They came in, checked some seafood, canned goods..."
Ferguson and another nearby restaurant owner said they were told every establishment within a mile of the baseball stadium was being visited by federal inspectors. The state of Florida normally monitors restaurants.
Monday, the RNC Host Committee officially announced Tropicana Field will house a gigantic welcoming party Sunday night, August 26th.
Up to 20,000 convention delegates, local dignitaries and members of the media are invited.
Everyone else will encounter a very high security perimeter.
"I would think that it would be broader than just the [stadium] parking lot," St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon told FOX 13 News. "It probably would have to because the streets here, 16th Street and First Avenue South, are very close in proximity to the dome itself."
Harmon confirmed that zone will be fenced in, but the Secret Service has yet to define specific boundaries.
The police chief also confirmed nearby city assets, including two fire stations, the police, and the water services compound will also be fenced in.
"There will be some hardening to those kinds of facilities because it will cut down on the amount of resources [personnel] we'll need to protect those facilities," Harmon explained.
He also said his officers will secure a buffer zone around the high security zone, with increased police presence throughout downtown.
"Anywhere there's a potential for crowds to be," Harmon said.
The department plans to send officers door-to-door to impacted residents and businesses once plans are finalized. Chief Harmon declined to say how much securing Tropicana Field will cost, nor would he disclose additional equipment that will be needed.
However he thinks security inside the Trop will be paid for by the Host Committee, through the Tampa Bay Rays. The rest presumably will be paid for from $50 million Congress gave to Tampa for RNC security.
"It's our expectation that those costs that are above and beyond our normal city services that we provide, we're going to ask for reimbursement," Harmon said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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