A little more than two years ago then-Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio
sat in a room with officials from all over our area, waiting anxiously for a phone call they had been wanting for quite some time.
They waited for the phone call that would confirm Tampa as the host for the Republican National Convention.
It was May 12, 2010.
And they waited. And they waited. And they waited. And after a longer-than expected wait, the moment finally came.
"I've just finished up the committee business, and I'm very proud to call you and congratulate you as the host city," said then-RNC chairman Michael Steele via a conference call that day.
The room erupted.
Iorio, sitting around a desk wearing a bright blue dress, smiled and clapped emphatically, surrounded by a room full of cheers, fist pumps and high fives.
Two years later she couldn't be any more excited for Tampa, and on Monday morning – now a week until the convention officially opens at the Tampa Bay Times Forum – she said it's been well worth the wait.
"I had a vibe when we made our presentation to the group at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor and showed them Tampa – you could just tell that they were wowed by our city," said Iorio, who was intricate in bringing the convention here. "We continue to get better and better all the time. We are the country's best kept secret."
The entire Bay area looks spiffed, shined and ready to go. Look no further than the beautiful transformation to the downtown area over the last month.
"Look at the lighting under the bridges that Mayor Buckhorn just did. Look what we have to show now with our parks, our downtown, our Riverwalk, the museums," Iorio said. "It's just a special place, and not everyone knows that. But they will know it after this convention is through."
It's the first time in 40 years Florida has hosted a convention, so Iorio said it's not only important for Tampa, but for Florida as well.
Iorio said she's proud of the way Tampa is presenting itself, but she also added she's glad the convention will give a good boost to local businesses during one of the slower times of the year.
For Tampa, she said, next week is a win-win situation.
"I'm very proud. I'm very proud," she said. "I love this city very much."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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