Obama to Accept Nomination at Broncos' Stadium

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama will accept the Democratic presidential nomination at a 75,000-seat Denver football stadium, rejecting his party's convention hall because it is too small to accommodate his supporters along with the usual convention delegates and party insiders.

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that moving the speech to Invesco Field at Mile High, home of the NFL's Denver Broncos, from the Pepsi Center, which seats 19,000, would drive up costs and complicate security planning. But he said the extra aggravation would pay off with a dramatic Rocky Mountain tableau that reinforces Obama's grass-roots style and historic ascent.

"Senator Obama does not look at this as his convention; he looks at it as America's convention," Dean said of the Aug. 25-28 national convention. "It's going to be new. It's going to be different. It's going to be incredibly exciting."

But it is not unprecedented. John F. Kennedy delivered his acceptance speech before 80,000 people at Los Angeles Coliseum in 1960. Kennedy chose the outdoor arena to maximize the impact of his acceptance speech, with its call for voters to join him in blazing a "new frontier."

Obama may also follow Kenne dy's lead this month by speaking in Berlin during a trip abroad that also will take him to England and France, and perhaps to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel. An Obama campaign aide said that details about the trip are still being worked out and that a speech at the Brandenberg Gate is one option under consideration.

In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, Kennedy delivered one of his most famous speeches after visiting the gate, expressing his solidarity with the city and declaring, "Ich bin ein Berliner" -- "I am a Berliner."

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius joined Dean in announcing the change of venue, itself an intriguing development because she is widely viewed as a possible choice to be Obama's vice presidential nominee. She noted the overflow crowds that Obama attracts to his events and said, "The final night of the convention, the most coveted ticket, will now be available to almost 74,000 people."

Dean dismissed reports that convention planning had run into problems, including a financial shortfall that has slowed progress at the Denver site.

"If we were over budget, we wouldn't be doing this," Dean said of the move to Invesco. He blamed the lengthy primary season as one reason for the current scrambling, and he conceded that fundraising by the local host committee had lagged. "It is true that they have not raised all the money that they had hoped to raise, but that has happened at every convention for quite some years," he said.

The venue change was the Obama campaign's idea, Dean said, and when it came up about a week ago, "we embraced it." One consideration was the additional security measures that would be required because of the much larger size and the outdoor setting. Dean said he raised the issue with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper over the weekend, and the mayor responded, "If this is what the Obama people want to do, we're going to find a way to do it."

Renting and outfitting the stadium will add substantially to the convention's price tag, but Dean said the host committee "will have a lot of help" from Obama in raising money.

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