Obama’s Acceptance Speech Moved Indoors, Citing Weather Concerns
The Democratic National Convention organizers announced this morning that President Obama’s speech on Thursday night, as well as the other scheduled speeches by others such as Vice-President Biden, has been moved inside due to concerns about the weather:
(CBS News) CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.
The Obama campaign said this week that they would keep the events in the stadium through rain but that it would move to the arena if lightning posed safety threats. Rain has hit the Charlotte area every day since Saturday, with remnants of Hurricane Isaac drenching the area Tuesday.
While the organizers are citing weather concerns, there have been numerous media reports over the past week that organizers had been having trouble ensuring that the 74,000 set Bank of American Stadium would be filled for the President’s speech. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the current forecast for Thursday does call for a 40% chance of thunderstorms during the day, and a 30% chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Even if the weather had cleared up for the President’s speech later in the evening, the possibility of storms earlier in the day when other events are going on at the stadium was likely in organizers minds. That won’t stop some from speculating that the ticket issue also motivated the decision, of course.
The move to a smaller venue will impact at least the visual image organizers were attempting to convey, but I doubt the 20,000 people in attendance will be any less enthusiastic. Of course, there will be about 50,000 disappointed non-delegates who had tickets to the outdoor event that are likely going to be disappointed.
Update: A Charlotte meteorologist is questioning the decision to cancel the outdoor event:
The chief meteorologist at News Channel 36 WCNC in Charlotte is questioning the decision to move President Obama’s Thursday campaign speech indoors.
“[I]t’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 wrote on Twitter.
“Severe threat is almost zero Thursday night & chance of rain is 20%,” Panovich wrote.
“My only beef is it’s not like this threat has changed much in the past week if anything the weather situation has gotten marginally better the closer we have gotten to tomorrow night,” he told POLITICO.
“I’m all for safety and indeed the threat for some lightning is around for those hours when people would be entering the stadium and going through security. I’m talking about 3-6pm timeframe so I can’t blame them there,” he said.
And, perhaps, that is what the organizers had in mind in making the decision. Nonetheless, it’s going to look pretty silly in retrospect if nothing happens weather wise in Charlotte tomorrow.
The other thought is that this is a truly unique situation. The same storm, or at the very least fears regarding the impact of the same storm on a specific venue have caused major scheduling changes to be made to both major party conventions. I’m pretty sure that’s a first.