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Jaffe’s Journal

Thoughts and Observations from the Road
This week, The RNC in FLA
by Steve Jaffe
(Photos courtesy of the writer)

Friday August 31st marked the END of the Republican National Convention. Having spent the past 2 weeks in and out of Tampa, it’s a nice relief. The RNC posed many logistical challenges for everyone, the biggest being its location. While the Tampa Bay Times Forum is a great location, there were basically 2 roads in, creating a bottleneck for vehicles. Boneyard space was very tight. Once the security perimeter was up access was even harder. However, it was well controlled and kept flowing despite the lines. There were also many “offsite” locations where events took place – from tented structures to warehouses – and there were vendor trucks everywhere. Putting the politics aside, it’s a show producer’s playground with many different kinds of events, locations, themes, and opportunities to do what we do best…produce!

LSP Member Spotlight: Jaffe's Journal

Standing on the rooftop of the forum one day, I noticed…well…everything. As far as event support, it was refreshing to see many different companies. Look to the left and you see Tent vendor A, Lighting company B, Audio company C. Look to the right and it’s a different team altogether. In short, everyone in the business had a shot to be part of the event. All it took was some good salesmanship. Media was everywhere and thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac there was even more focus during setup.

Inside, the forum was given a complete makeover – hard to believe it’s where the Tampa Bay Lightning play. No Ice!! It was gone – replaced with a stage and floor chairs. As it turns out, the Forum is about to get the largest indoor HD video display of any “ice” venue in the country, so the video board being replaced had already been removed. Even the walkways inside, the merchandise shops, and the concessions were all “themed” for the convention. Starting Tuesday the 4th, it all goes back to normal (hopefully) for the 2012-2013 NHL Season.

LSP Member Spotlight: Jaffe's JournalI happened to see a few unique elements that deserve mention. One was the use of Air Conditioned walkways. While many of the walkways around the area were covered, and some had “misting systems” to alleviate the heat, there was almost 600′ of covered walkway that was dressed out and climate controlled with HVAC from the Convention Center to the Forum for the delegates and media to use. This was a nice beak from the 90-plus-degree heat that covered the city most of the week (except when the rains from Isaac came in). The walkways were dressed out in red, white and blue LED lighting inside and video monitors with live feeds. Another unique item was taking the “Party Deck” of the Tampa Bay Times Forum and enclosing it with a glass structure and HVAC. I had the opportunity to speak with Austin Walker – Senior Account Manager with Karls who took a few minutes to explain all of the elements and design plan for both areas. I was not able to see the finished product on the rooftop, but from ” the ground up” it looked spectacular.

LSP Member Spotlight: Jaffe's Journal

Kudos go out to Karls Tents on these two installs. Not only did they tackle the challenges of setup and removal but they also had the storm to deal with, which meant taking things down on Monday and then re-erecting 24 hours later. During load-in, their Director of Safety Ken Keberle was onsite, in safety vest and hard hat, ensuring that not only were the structures going up properly, but that their people and the other vendors working inside the tented areas also maintained the level of awareness of safety on the jobsite. I think this was the first time I saw an AV company and a tent HVAC company working with hard hats on inside a tent.

Given the recent events with stages, its nice to see a continued focus on safety – for both the crew and the guests. In the end, the delegates showed up, enjoyed the convention and its activities without much of a hitch. I am sure they noticed the elements but most, if not all, did not give a thought to what it took to make this all happen.

Just another day in the world of live shows.

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