RNC 2012: Tampa Bay Host Committee gearing up for big bash

2:48 PM, Aug 21, 2012   |    comments
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Arist's rendering of how the inside of Tropicana Field looked for the RNC's welcome party on Sunday, August 26.
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- For a group planning what they're calling the biggest welcome party in the history of conventions, there's not a whole lot of worry about the potential of bad weather making its way to Tampa Bay.

"You're making a lot of presumptions the weather could end up here," said Ken Jones, CEO of the Tampa Bay Host Committee.

He went on to say if a storm does make landfall near Tampa Bay, he's confident local and state responders will react appropriately. 

"I have full faith and confident with the state of Florida, with FEMA, the local emergency management that if there is a bad weather incident, we will get people out, we will make sure they're safe and get on their way and out of harms way," said Jones.

The focus of Tuesday's final press briefing by the Host Committee was focused on the big welcome party planned at Tropicana Field on Sunday night.

The set up is planned down to the second. Saturday's Rays game ends at around 5 p.m. Saturday. As soon as the first fan starts to head home, a crew of 1,000 people will begin the hustle to transform the stadium in to a party zone that will feature six 3-D video screens which will project images of Tampa Bay, three stages for musical acts and cityscapes that represent Tampa, Clearwater and St. Pete.

It all has to get done in less than 20 hours, before the 15,000 guests arrive.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 16," said Jones, "You've got to get all the people out, you've got to get the security sweep going, you've got to get all the equipment moved in, you've got to start to build the stage, all the trees of life."

Guests will feast on cuisine inspired by the Tampa area and Gasparilla krewes will mingle with the crowd in full garb to talk to out of towners about the area.

Live performances include headliner Rodney Atkins, local Shannon Magrane from Fox's 'American Idol', Karla Davis from NBC's 'The Voice', the Tampa Bay Bucs cheerleaders, Tampa Bay Rays Street Team, the Tampa Bay Lightning's 'Lightning Girls, and performers from Busch Gardens.

The Host Committee also released its Official Guide to the Republican National Convention which highlights Tampa Bay's history, landmarks and economic profile. 

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