City of Tampa examines a 'Hospitality Zone' for RNC protesters

Portable watering stations, bathrooms in the works

TAMPA - May is hot in Tampa.

"The heat down here is brutal and it's going to be a very hot summer," said Tim Sommers, on the sidewalk at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

But August will be hotter.  Especially when you're holding a sign in the sun.

"These people who are coming are used to a really different climate, completely different weather.  As an EMT I've gone to heat exhaustion calls all the time," said Sommers who is also a protestor with Occupy Tampa.

When protesters like Sommers flood downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention, one city leader says Tampa needs to have a welcome wagon.

"What can we do to make these people comfortable?  We all know what August is like here," said Tampa City Council Member Yvonne Yolie Capin.

Capin says the city will set up hospitality areas inside the event zone. She says council members are looking at city-owned land shaded by the Selmon Expressway.

"A covered parking area that would protect them from the heat of the sun and rain.  (It) is a very rainy season," said Yolie Capin.

Then there's another problem -- keeping people hydrated.

For example, in Curtis Hixon, which is the biggest park in downtown Tampa, there is only one water fountain.  With 15,000 protestors expected for the RNC, the city has to come up with creative solutions.

The Mayor's spokesperson says the city will set up portable watering stations and bathrooms in multiple locations. Police would keep an eye on the hospitality areas.

"We'll not allow tents. We'll not allow campers," said Capin.

But with 15,000 protesters headed here in August and hotel rooms at a premium, where will they all go?

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