Rain fell during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by Jared Soares for PBS NewsHour.
With Thursday’s threat of thunderstorms holding at 40 percent, organizers for the Democratic National Convention have made the call to move the day’s events, including President Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, out of the open-air, 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium into the closed-roof, 20,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena.
Concerns of safety due to the possibility of severe weather and hoping to avoid an evacuation if Mother Nature turned nasty — let alone the visual nightmare of an empty stadium should attendees decide to stay home due to the rain — left organizers with less than 36 hours to make the move and thousands of ticket holders without a seat.
“This is not a Panthers game, as you may know. It’s a national special security event,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. “So the criteria used for that is… ensuring that we’re not putting the public safety or security of anybody in the audience at risk.”
Republicans, who canceled the first day of their convention due to the threat of Hurricane Issac, questioned the motivation behind the venue change. According to the New York Daily News:
“Problem filling seats?” asked GOP spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski in an email. “The Democrats continue to downgrade convention events due to lack of enthusiasm — this time they are moving out of Bank of America/Panther stadium.”
However, Obama campaign officials countered there were 19,000 on the waiting list for the Thursday night speech and that the president would address those now left without a ticket in a conference call earlier on Thursday.
The last-minute move due to the threat of downpour also means there will not be customary raining of celebratory balloons to mark the closing of the DNC. The AP reports that it’s too late to fill the Time Warner Cable Arena’s ceiling with balloons, but organizers are looking for other festive ways to close the Convention.