Lightning, Storm teams move out, RNC moves in to Tampa Bay Times Forum

$20M in upgrades for 'State of the Art' Convention

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Times Forum is being tailored -- trading in a polyester sports jersey for something much dressier.

Carpenters, craftsman and electricians have only just started.

But they have so much to do to make sure everything fits -- perfectly.

"This convention will be a state-of-the-art convention unlike any that you've all experienced before," said Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

An electrical upgrade is already complete, adding two extra megawatts of power -- that's enough to power 2,000 homes.  A backup electrical generation system is also in place in event of a power outage.

Optical fiber will connect the arena to the Tampa Convention Center, where most of 15,000 credentialed media members will have workspace.

AT&T, the convention's official wireless provider, will expand wireless communication for the forum and the convention center.

Construction crews will build a new door along the perimeter wall of the facility that faces Channelside.

Contractors from the Freeman Company are removing 3,000 chairs on the south side of the arena, making room for the stage where Mitt Romney will accept the Republican Presidential nomination.

Look up and you can see the new $400,000 insulation, so that speech will be clearer than ones given in Houston, Texas.

"If you said something at the 50-yard line, the echo was still going, some people said, 27 seconds later," explained Mike Miller, COO Committee on Arrangements.

It's not just politicians and delegates they are getting ready for.

Members of the media will move into VIP suites on floors three and five. Chairs will be torn out. Plywood will go down. Carpet and walls will be covered. When it's all over, contracts will put everything back in as it was.

The tailoring at The Tampa Bay Times Forum will take 50,000 man-hours, six weeks, and up to $20 million for what may be the grandest and certainly the most well-attended event it ever hosts.

"What you see out here now is change.  Real change because we're structurally moving forward," said Alec Poitevint, Chairman Committee on Arrangements.

With the RNC moving in, the Lightning has to move out, which means every bobble head, jersey and knick knack from stores.

It's only the first day but they've already started.

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