- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

The staff at the Staples Center in Los Angeles has been in discussions with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus about possibly delaying its setup and “loading in” of animals and equipment Tuesday in case Michael Jackson’s family chooses to use the arena for a memorial service, a spokesman for the circus said.

Steve Payne of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, confirmed there have been talks with Staples Center representatives, but said there was no official notice from the Staples Center about a service.

How would it feel to hold a circus in the venue after a memorial for Mr. Jackson?

“We are glad we can offer our flexibility to have a memorial service, if that’s what should happen,” Mr. Payne said. “We recognize the importance of such an event to the Jackson family; Feld Entertainment is family owned. We know this is a sensitive time.”

A train approximately a mile long will carry elephants, horses and other animals and equipment into Los Angeles for the circus, which is scheduled to open Wednesday. That task could prove ambitious if thousands of people are exiting the city from a memorial service for the King of Pop.

“We have been moving our operation through urban areas for 139 years,” Mr. Payne said. “We have people who specialize in logistics of moving shows. There would be extensive coordination with the Staples Center and law enforcement. The care and well-being of the animals would be the top priority.”

Mr. Payne said he had no information about where the train would be positioned and what route the entourage might take.

Law enforcement is in “a holding pattern” until it hears from the family, Richard French, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said Thursday.

Mr. French said he could not confirm any media reports that the event is to be held at the Staples Center on Tuesday.

Officials with the Staples Center also did not disclose any information regarding whether the Jackson family had been in discussions with them.

“Our role, if a service is held, will be to oversee traffic safety, and get the word out to the media about aspects of that,” Mr. French said. “The Jackson family prefers that they be the ones to disseminate any information about any service, if they are to have one.”

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