It’s official now — Barack Obama’s acceptance speech tomorrow night won’t take place in The Stadium Whose Real Name Shall Not Be Mentioned. Instead of the 73,000-seat venue, the DNC has opted to move Obama back indoors, where they only need to fill 20,000 seats. The campaign blames incoming weather, but CBS sounds a little skeptical:
Democrats are significantly downsizing the final night of their national convention, moving the events — including President Obama’s acceptance speech — from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena because of threats of thunder and lightning.
Mr. Obama was slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in the open-air football stadium before a crowd of more than 60,000. The basketball and hockey arena, however, seats just around 20,000.
National Journal also notes the political benefits of using a much smaller venue for Obama:
- “We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area, therefore we have decided to move Thursday’s proceedings to Time Warner Cable Arena to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests,” said Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Steve Kerrigan.
- Moving Obama to the much smaller Time Warner Arena, which holds about 22,000, could be seen as something of a political letdown after Obama accepted his party’s nomination in 2008 at Denver’s Invesco Field. But organizers also feared the possiblity of televised images of Obama speaking to a half-empty stadium.
So does The Hill:
The Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Democratic National Convention has been taking place all this week, is a much smaller venue.
It holds less than half the amount of people the stadium does — 22,000 to the stadium’s 73,000 — and Obama will address those with stadium credentials in a conference call Thursday, the committee said.
But the move will also raise questions as there has been speculation Democrats would be unable to fill all the stadium seats. Party officials had arranged for bus loads of supporters to be brought in for the occasion.
Not for nothing, but the weather forecast for tomorrow night at Weather.com looks rather … normal for Charlotte. While it’s true that the weather service predicts thunderstorms tomorrow, they also predict that those will have passed by 10 pm ET tomorrow, before Obama would have taken the stage. By 4 pm ET, the prediction for “scattered thunderstorms” drops to “isolated thunderstorms,” and the precipitation chance drops from 40% to 30%.
It looks more like the attendance forecast was partly gloomy, with a large chance of Eastwooding at Bank of America Stadium.
Update: Brad Panovich, an anchor at local TV station WCNC, asks a pretty good question:
It's a simple question.. if you had a #Panthers game, Concert or Soccer match with a 20% chance of storms would you cancel 24hrs prior?
— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) September 5, 2012
I’d guess the answer would be no. Then again, I’ve never heard that the Carolina Panthers have trouble filling the stadium, either.
Update II: It was the weather, eh? Earlier this morning, the local NBC affiliate reported that Obama himself downplayed attendance expectations:
In an exclusive one on one interview with NBC12, President Obama himself was hesitant to guarantee a packed house.
“Well we got to check the weather,” he said. “But hopefully, we will have good weather and I’m looking forward to what is going to be a terrific event.”
The president then quickly changed the conversation to the message he hoped to send in his speech, regardless of how many people would be watching.
“My main goal is not to worry about the logistics of the convention,” Obama said. “My main goal is to communicate to the American people how we can move forward.”
If the weather turns out to be nice and calm tonight, will the press take a few pictures of the empty stadium?