Inside the belly of the beast: The Tampa Bay Times Forum
As you're watching the Republican National Convention, things often appear effortless - the perfectly timed speeches, the cheering, smiling delegation members wearing matching hats and waving signs.
But inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, things are a little more confusing and a little less seamless for both the attendees and the media.
The convention center's floors are numbered differently than the section levels - my press stand seat, for instance, is section 126 but on the third floor. News partners ABC7 have a suite on the 200 level, or the 4th floor.
Tuesday, I spent much of my time running from floor to floor to meet various sources and colleagues - asking a million Forum employees for help along the way. By the end of last night, I was cursing my decision to put style over practicality - why didn't I pack flats?
Today, I felt more comfortable with the layout - and cognizant of the running around, packed an extra pair of sensible shoes.
That said, one waits in line for just about anything - entering the convention center. Security. The bathrooms. The buses getting to and from the arena.
My press stand seat is to the left of the convention stage if you're facing it. West Virginia, Wyoming and Texas are some of the closest delegations to me. Texas has worn coordinated hats and outfits each night. Tonight, it's a blue denim shirt and white cowboy hats. Illinois delegates are on the opposite side of the stage, about 50 to 75 feet back.
Press are allowed to check out floor passes for an hour and a half at a time, so I've visited Illinois folks several times already. Tonight, many are waving blue Romney "we can change it" signs.
Back in the press stand, sitting next to me is a reporter from Buzzfeed. Like at ballgames, you'll often arrive and find another reporter occupying your assigned spot (we got lucky, we're told, with a good seat, because one of the Senate Press Gallery organizers comes from the 'burbs).
Internet connection is on and off, depending on the popularity of the speaker. Networks have been clogged during Ann Romney and Chris Christie's Monday night speech, as well as John McCain's address tonight.
All that said, the excitement and the energy in the air is incredible. You truly get the feeling you're a part of history.