While the Republican National Convention has been an economic boon for many, there is an outcry tonight from some business owners in downtown Tampa who say the convention has been a bust.
It's like a tale of two Tampas, with conflicting reports from different sides of the massive security fences that divide the city. When you ask how business is in Channelside:
"It's been phenomenal," says Guy Revelle, with Splitsville. "I think this is probably worth two or three Super Bowls, obviously from a media perspective, it's unbelievable."
But as busy as they are on this side, go just north of the fence, and it's a different world.
"We are just boxed in to where people can't even get to our facility," said Stephen Davis, with the Luxury Box.
You could literally throw a rock and hit the Forum from the Luxury Box, but fenced off from convention business, the restaurant is having its worst week ever.
"After all the time and money that we invested in the RNC, to see what's transpired, it's pretty disappointing," Davis said.
Fenced off and barricaded, downtown streets aren't inviting.
"I mean there's nothing I can do about that, it's just the reality of the post-911 world," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.
The Mayor has heard the mixed reviews from business.
"We knew going into this that there will be businesses that had expectations that were not going to be met, and there would be businesses that underestimated how wildly successful the impact of this would be," Buckhorn said.
The mayor says Ybor City is drawing a good night time crowd. The Cuban Club and Centro Asturiano de Tampa are booked with big events.
But central downtown, with the county center and courts shut down during the RNC, places like Gilligan's that depend on downtown workers are devastated.
"So this was supposed to be as big as the Super Bowl for you guys?" we asked.
"That's what we were told and the Super Bowl was huge, and this isn't. No not at all, it's a complete 180."
So now, some of the business people say they're talking to lawyers to make some sort of claim or action Against the city, the RNC, or the host committee to reimburse them for lost business.
But, where business is good, they say take a look at the big picture.
"And they stop me all the time, folks having the best week they will ever have because of this convention. And it's not just here in Tampa, it's all over the Tampa Bay area," Buckhorn said.
But for people with empty tables, the convention across the fence is a world away.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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