Behind the scenes of the Republican National Convention

Converting a hockey arena into the GOP's 2008 convention venue.

RNC Countdown to Sept.

The Republican Party is gearing up for its 2008 National Convention , which is being held at the Xcel Energy Center (home of the Minnesota Wild professional hockey team) in St. Paul, Minn. Forty-five thousand participants are expected at the event, which runs Sept. 1-4.

Center stage

Convention organizers so far have laid more than 20 miles of cable, removed 3,500 seats, started transforming 30 arena suites into temporary media studios, and begun rigging the trusses that will hold lighting, speakers and other production equipment.

Network champion

Max Everett, CIO of the 2008 Republican National Convention, moved to the Twin Cities area 14 months ago as IT planning for the convention kicked into high gear. "The big issue for us is capacity. What we're doing far exceeds normal usage," Everett says.

Fit for a Zamboni

When it comes to accommodating convention organizers and participants, no space is left untapped -- not even the Zamboni storage room (pictured). Finding workspaces for everyone is like completing a jigsaw puzzle, Everett says. "We just assume we've got to get the network anywhere in the building."

Room for wiring

Built in 2000, the Xcel Energy Center has "top-notch infrastructure" in place, Everett says. Easily accessible wiring trays have simplified the task of adding the network capacity that's needed for the convention. The experience is a lot different than trying to run wires in New York City's historic Madison Square Garden, says Everett, who worked on IT for the Republican Party's 2004 convention there.

Piggyback network

The Xcel Energy Center is adjacent to the RiverCentre convention center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium, which also are being used to host convention activities. IT staff took advantage of enclosed skyways connecting the buildings to run fiber to the RiverCentre parking garage, where television networks will operate production trailers.

Radio stars

An estimated 130 radio shows will broadcast from Radio Row, an area designated for radio stations and syndicated talk show hosts. In addition, some radio shows will broadcast from skyboxes or the press level at the Xcel Energy Center.

It\'s a Web 2.0 world

The Republican National Convention partnered with Ustream.TV to provide live video streams of the event over the Web. To reach the widest possible audience of voters, the GOP also has been cultivating its presence on social networking sites including Facebook , MySpace , Twitter , YouTube and LinkedIn .

What do YOU think?

We want to hear from you. Do you plan to catch coverage of the Republican National Convention on traditional television and radio networks, or will you turn to Web sources like Ustream.TV for live video feeds?