What You Need to Know About the Republican Convention

By Mitra Sorrells August 21, 2012, 12:36 PM EDT

Inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, 15 LED screens will provide images during the Republican National Convention. Thirteen screens in various sizes are on the stage, including three above that give the appearance of a skylight. Organizers say the podium was designed to give a sense of "America's living room," with traditional American Prairie architecture and modern technology.

Courtesy of Republican National Convention

It’s been more than two years since the Republican National Convention selected Tampa to host the 2012 gathering. Now with the convention’s Sunday night opening approaching, venues and vendors are finishing their work to welcome the more than 50,000 expected attendees, including delegates, party officials, celebrities, and 15,000 media representatives. Here’s a look at what’s buzzing around town:

SOCIAL MEDIA: The RNC has dubbed this the “convention without walls,” referencing its extensive use of social media to engage people around the world. Google is the official social platform and live stream provider. Organizers will also use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, and other applications to share information in real time. Mashable takes a look at how the convention will use YouTube, owned by Google, “to livestream everything”:

On Facebook, organizers have created the Social Victory Center, integrated with Eventbrite. Los Angeles Times:

NETWORK COVERAGE: “When Republicans convene next week in Tampa, Florida, and Democrats the week after in Charlotte, North Carolina, major broadcast networks will use the Internet to provide the kind of extensive coverage they long ago abandoned on their airwaves.”

THE STAGE: As another part of the “convention without walls” strategy, the convention will use 15 LED screens, 13 on the stage alone, that will be used individually and also together to form an unbroken panoramic image. The largest screen is 381 square feet. “The stage is really incredible,“ Republican National Convention C.E.O. William Harris said. “We are using technology and digital capabilities that have never been used at a convention before. The high-tech stage brings this event to a whole new level and it will help people at home watching TV or watching us through YouTube online to be a part of the energizing experience here in Tampa.” (PDF)

THE APPS: Media, delegates, and guests will navigate the convention and watch live coverage using a mobile app created by the Republican National Convention and the Tampa Bay Host Committee. Developed by AT&T, the app also includes interactive trivia games and a scavenger hunt where users have the chance to win prizes by scanning QR codes at a number of GOParty Card locations. ABC News:

Bloomberg Government has partnered with Event Farm to offer an app specifically for events during the convention. My2012Tampa allows planners to customize ticket distribution and run will-call on site. It also allows attendees to find friends attending events and transfer extra tickets they may have. BizBash:

Luxury car service Uber is partnering with the National Journal to offer a joint app and reduced rates on rides around Tampa. Washington City Paper:

CASH FLOW: A report estimates the convention will bring up to $173 million to the Tampa Bay area economy. Forbes:

PEDAL POWER: Twenty pedal buses developed by health insurance company Humana will shuttle guests around Tampa during the convention. “The vehicles hold up to eight passengers and one licensed Freewheelin driver. Riders can hop aboard, as long as there are seats available, anywhere along a route from the Straz Center to Ybor City.” Tampa Bay Online:

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION: The Tampa Bay Host Committee has recruited 4,567 people to fulfill 10,000 volunteer jobs. To thank them, Busch Gardens is inviting volunteers to visit the park for free on September 9. Each volunteer can bring one guest.

THEATER TUSSLE: A federal judge is scheduled to consider an emergency request today, which asks for a temporary restraining order stopping Channelside Cinemas from hosting any convention parties. The theater’s landlord says the venue never received permission to host the events that are reported to feature high-profile guests such as Glenn Beck. Tampa Bay Times:

HOSPITALITY: Convention organizers reserved more than 15,000 rooms at nearly 100 hotels to house the 56 Republican delegations, party officials, and some media. The hotels are spread throughout the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, and some are nearly 45 minutes from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor has come up with some creative ways to help delegates have fun. Tampa Bay Times:

GIFT BAGS: A group of adults with developmental disabilities is working to fill 14,000 gift bags for delegates, V.I.P.s, and media coming to Tampa for the convention. Tampa Bay Times:

RANDY REPUBLICANS: Whether it is truly the strip-club capital of the world, as it’s been called, may be up for debate, but there’s no denying there are plenty of adult entertainment venues around Tampa. Next week they will all be vying for the attention of convention attendees. Washington Post:

'DAILY SHOW' ON LOCATION: Jon Stewart and crew will produce four shows from Tampa next week. Fans snapped up tickets in one hour for the shows that will be taped at the Straz Center August 28-31. Huffington Post:

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