EMPTY STREETS

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2012 8:41 PM
EMPTY STREETS

Downtown Tampa business owners once saw the Republication National Convention as an opportunity to make a profit. Now they're just hoping to break even.

That's because Tampa's streets are deserted, its restaurants nearly empty, thanks to a delay in convention activities caused by nasty weather, and tight security that makes getting around downtown akin to navigating a labyrinth.

"This has been a ghost town," said business owner Jeff Morzella on Tuesday, standing outside his restaurant named FRESH.

Streets surrounding his locale were barricaded. The biggest source of downtown traffic for the past few days has been police officers on bicycles, but they have been eating at meal stations catered by outsiders, not local restaurants, Morzella said. Still, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is optimistic that by the end of the week, economic gains will outweigh losses.

"I think when we're all said and done with this, this will have a huge economic impact on the city," he said.

— Peter Prengaman —Twitter http://twitter.com/peterprengaman

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