Barack Obama capped off the 2008 Democratic National Convention last night by officially accepting the party's nomination for president before a packed crowd of 84,000 at Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High.
Preparations for the one-night gig involved a rigorous production schedule, with hundreds working around the clock since the Denver Broncos cleared the stadium after a preseason football game last Friday night. Goalposts, benches, rain tarps, and other stadium fixtures were removed for field seating, media platforms, and the massive stage of Washingtonian columns. The construction team hauled in more than 200 extra spotlights and other equipment on 20 18-wheelers—all while minding the $1.5 million turf, a unique blend of bluegrass and synthetic grass.
Tens of thousands were eager to get inside to see the finished product, but scoring a golden ticket to Invesco required a great deal of luck or finesse. The 60,000 tickets available by online lottery primarily went to Obama volunteers and supporters, another 15,000 went to the media, and the rest were doled out within the party.
There was also the small matter of getting all 84,000 people inside in a timely fashion while still passing the rigorous security screening. Doors (and there were just three of them) opened at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, with processing reportedly taking 90 minutes from entry in the line outside to finding a seat in the stands. The DNC programmed festivities throughout the day to help attendees keep their minds off the wait and the afternoon heat. Acts like Sheryl Crow, Will.I.Am, and Stevie Wonder all graced the stage before the night’s headline speakers.
And when Obama finally appeared just after 10:00 p.m., the crowd welcomed him with several minutes of applause, which he ineffectively tried to silence with over a dozen refrains of “thank you, thank you very much.” The ensuing speech lasted 43 minutes.
As they did when Obama originally made the decision last month to take his party nomination outside the convention center, the Republicans spoke out against the theatrics of such massive stage production. But as School of Visual Arts co-chairman Steven Heller wrote in The New York Times yesterday, “Stagecraft has always had an essential role in presidential conventions.”