The road to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was hardly paved with political gold. It was more like a rocky construction site.
The tens of thousands of average Americans and nominating delegates who went to Invesco Stadium to witness history Thursday night were forced to walk in narrow sidewalk passages lined with steel fences and concrete barriers, navigate around muddy potholes, climb up steep grassy hills and even dodge the occasional parade of cackling protesters.
When they got past that obstacle course, they reached a crush of humanity lined in columns hundreds of yards long. Police told the jocular goers _ many sporting large hats and proud buttons and signs _ that when they reached the back of the line by late afternoon that it could take two or more hours for them to get to their seats.
“We normally can fill this stadium with 70,000 people in just an hour or two when the Broncos play. Tonight it will take two to three times that,” said one Denver police officer standing guard outside the stadium, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the news media.
Mr. Obama moved the last night of his convention speech from the convention center that hosted the first three nights of the Democrats’ party to an open-air football stadium, allowing far more people to attend and to provide a dramatic television backdrop unseen in nominating convention history.
But the change required enormosly tight security and the normal vast entryways into the football stadium where the professional Denver Broncos football team play were choked to just a handful of entry ways.
Delegates and the police tried to make the best of the situation. People standing in lines shared sun block to avoid burning, and when two officers spotted and elderly woman trying to climb a steep hill to get to the end of the line they gently grabbed her arms and led her to an easier entrance.