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LIVE from Charlotte: DNCC moves Thursday evening events to Time Warner Cable Arena

The fourth evening of the 2012 Democratic National Convention will take place at Time Warner Cable Arena instead of Bank of America Stadium as previously planned, convention organizers have just announced.

“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 DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan.

“The energy and enthusiasm for our convention in Charlotte has been overwhelming and we share the disappointment of over 65,000 people who signed up for community credentials to be there with the President in person.”

“We encourage our community credential holders and Americans across the country to continue to come together with their friends and neighbors to watch and participate in history. The President will speak to these credential holders on a national conference call tomorrow afternoon, and we will work with the campaign to ensure that those unable to attend tomorrow’s event will be invited to see the President between now and Election Day.”

The move means that far fewer people will be able to watch President Obama’s nomination speech in person. Time Warner Cable Arena can only accommodation a maximum of 20,200 people (though its capacity for the DNC is less, since the building was reconfigured for the convention and not all seating is available). Bank of America Stadium’s capacity is more than three times that… 73,778.

Four years ago, President Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president before a huge crowd at Invesco Field in Denver. The weather that day was excellent – it was sunny and warm out.

Unfortunately, there’s a strong possibility that there will be thunderstorms tomorrow in Charlotte, which could bring heavy rain and lightning.

NOAA’s National Weather Service has published the following forecast for tomorrow:

A slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 9 AM. Patchy fog before 8 AM. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 88. Southwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

In addition, NOAA has issued the following hazardous weather outlook for today:

SCATTERED TO NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL DEVELOP ACROSS THE REGION TODAY AND LINGER INTO THIS EVENING. THE PRIMARY THREAT FROM ANY THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL. IF THUNDERSTORMS REPEATEDLY AFFECT THE SAME LOCATION… FLASH FLOODING OF STREAMS OR URBAN FLOODING OF POOR DRAINAGE AREAS COULD RESULT. CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING STRIKES WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE WITH ANY THUNDERSTORMS.

The DNCC evidently concluded that the risk of thunderstorms was too great to move forward with plans to hold Thursday evening’s events at Bank of America Stadium. They took a chance on the weather and it didn’t pay off.

Were Bank of America Stadium more like CenturyLink Field in Seattle, convention organizers might have opted to stick with the original plan and make contingency plans for rain. As many readers are no doubt aware, having been to many Seahawks and Sounders games, CenturyLink Field is partially shielded from the elements… the stands are covered. It was designed for Pacific Northwest weather.

But Bank of America Stadium has no roof at all. That means that when it rains, the only way to stay dry is to put on a poncho.

Convention organizers don’t have the ability to put a makeshift roof on Bank of America Stadium, so they’re moving Thursday evening to Time Warner Cable Arena. In doing so, they made a safe call.

No doubt a lot of people who waited patiently to obtain community credentials are feeling disappointed right about now. Can’t say that I blame them. But the Obama campaign has pledged to do its best to make it up to them.

The campaign has suggested that community credentials will be honored at a forthcoming event or set of events, possibly campaign rallies in Charlotte. And there’s the conference call on Thursday.

Passes to Time Warner Cable Arena are going to be a hot ticket tomorrow, without question. If the DNCC is smart, they’ll install a few extra screens so they can fill a few more seats that don’t have a view of the stage, and thereby allow more volunteers to at least be in the arena when President Obama accepts the nomination.

POSTSCRIPT: The Charlotte Observer has a story about the decision that captures some of the reaction from guests.

3 Comments

  1. D C
    Posted September 5th, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    It has been confirmed they are moving because even with the students and churchgoers bussed in by the DNC, they may not even fill the arena with 20,000 people.

  2. Andrew
    Posted September 5th, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    Not correct. As stated in the post, the reason for the venue change is weather, not a fear of not being able to fill seats. The DNCC distributed 65,000 community credentials for Bank of America Stadium and there are an additional 19,000 people on the waiting list.

    Time Warner Cable Arena will be packed on Thursday night for the nomination acceptance speeches.

  3. Nelson Stephens
    Posted September 28th, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for your coverage. Really appreciated it.