With so many people coming to visit the city, naturally, it wants to look its best. And, long after the crowds have left and the election has been decided, the improvements made in preparation of the conventions will continue to benefit the city.
SMELL THE FLOWERS
Lusher than Charlotte by far, downtown Tampa and Bayshore Boulevard are enjoying a sprucing up as far as landscaping is concerned. A variety of Florida-friendly flora and fauna will ensure colorful displays throughout the year and for years to come, including 318 trees, 162 palm trees, 30,488 shrubs and groundcovers and 37,734 square feet of a yellow-flowering perennial peanut sod. In keeping with the tropical theme, showy pink Tabeuias, gray Medjool Palms, Brilliant Knock Out Roses and vibrant Birds of Paradise, to name a few, will be add splashes of color. Can Charlotte boast palm trees?
Politicos will steal the spotlight, but Chicago-based artist Tracey Dear reserves some of it for herself, as she lights up the nights with Agua Luces (Spanish for "water lights"), a colorful installation that will illuminate four of Tampa's downtown bridges that cross the Hillsborough River. Her luminescent artwork is a part of the "Lights on Tampa" program.
YOU CAN HEAR ME NOW
Not the showiest of changes, although you'll hear a difference and see one on your cellphone's display (more bars!)—there's been a $1 million investment to increase cell signal in the Convention Center as part of a larger $15 million legacy project in which AT&T has partnered with the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee to ease communications for all of those in attendance. You'll be able to update your Facebook profile with political pearls of wisdom faster than the kids in Charlotte.
Tampa Bay Times Forum owner Jeff Vinik invested $45 million to renovate it, and all of those attending the RNC will appreciate his efforts—especially the 20,000 chairs that were replaced with more comfortable, theater-style seats. Guess it'll be the Dems who end up with back pains and sore behinds. And if Tampa didn't already have so much over Charlotte, the new 10,000 square foot party deck is the perfect place to take a break from the convention action and watch the sun set over the Tampa skyline, enjoying the warm Florida breeze.