Obama fans scramble for tickets to historic speech
August 27, 2008
DENVER ” Talk inside the Democratic convention may be about unity, but on the streets of Denver this week, one thing is getting ugly ” the politics of getting tickets to see Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.
On sidewalks and in buses and bars, political watchers who have come to Denver hoping to score passes to Obama’s historic speech are stepping up their appeals to find a way to see Thursday night’s prime-time address in person.
At about 76,000 strong, the crowd that sees Obama at the Denver Broncos football stadium will be bigger than 95 percent of the cities in Colorado. But that’s still not big enough to hold all the people who want to attend.
“Man, it’s getting crazy out here. People are almost giving their right arm to see this speech,” said Crystal Messler, 27, a Denver resident who sat on a popular pedestrian plaza in downtown Denver Wednesday wearing an Obama sticker. She’s not one of the lucky ones with a ticket.
“I didn’t even try. Too crazy. No way I was getting one,” she said.
Democratic Party officials say they received more than 100,000 ticket requests within 48 hours of announcing that the speech would be at Invesco Field at Mile High.
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The stadium holds about 76,000 for a football game. Democratic officials won’t say precisely how many will see Obama’s speech live, citing security reasons. They also say seating for the speech will be different than for a football game, because extra seats have been placed on the field while others behind the temporary stage have been cordoned off.
But it’s fair to say demand outstrips supply.
Around the convention, every lunch counter and bar is abuzz with ticket-seekers. There are offers for free drinks, and less innocent bribes, in exchange for passes. Outside a free shuttle near the convention center Tuesday night, one desperate young man simply stood on a sidewalk shouting to no one in particular, “I! NEED! A! TICKET! TO! INVESCOOOOOO!”
“Everybody’s asking everybody for tickets,” said Tim Latorre, a Democratic volunteer from New York City who doesn’t have passes to the convention but came to Denver anyway because a friend “hooked me up with a ticket to the speech.”
“The goal for everybody every day is to score passes,” Latorre said.
His friend and fellow volunteer from New York, Rhea Beddoe, said she didn’t hesitate to travel cross-country on two weeks’ notice simply to hear the speech.
“Our seats are way up in the boondocks, believe me. But just being in there, being in that space in that time, I can’t equate it with anything. It’s like seeing the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech or something,” Beddoe said. And in fact, Obama’s speech comes on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s address on the National Mall.
Anticipation for the speech has led to some pretty dramatic attempts for tickets. Scott Olsen of Manhattan, Mont., came to Denver to play a show with his band Tuesday night and plans to hang around with his guitar outside the stadium Thursday doing “whatever I have to do” to talk someone into giving him a ticket.
“It’s going to be like a Grateful Dead show, you know, ‘I Need a Miracle,’ everybody out there looking for a ticket. I’m going to bring my guitar down there and maybe play songs to get people’s attention,” Olsen said.
“I would give either my pinky or a toe. Or maybe my pinky toe. Cause that’s the one they say you don’t really need,” Scott said with a laugh.