Peek at future DNC venue a hot ticket

By Stephanie Clary
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Free tickets to a Friday, Aug. 22, Pepsi Center open house were snapped up within 24 hours of the announcement that students and 5,000 Colorado residents would get the first glimpse of the arena’s complete transformation into the main venue for the Democratic National Convention.

“We want the people here in the host city to be the first to witness the amazing transformation of the Pepsi Center,” CEO of the DNC committee Leah D. Daughtry said.

On Monday, Aug. 4, she and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announced details on how the public could sign up for the convention hall’s open house, and the online ticketing quickly reached capacity.

The public grabbed up about 5,000 free tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis at www.DemConvention.com, with a limit of four tickets per purchase.

A wait-list option is available at the Web site, and the DNCC press office said more tickets will become available through the offices of elected officials.

The general public tours will run from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 22.

But at 8:30 a.m., before even ticketed residents get a glimpse inside, a special educational program will offer elementary and middle-school students a lesson on politics as they tour the Pepsi Center.

Educators interested in having their students participate can visit www.DemConvention.com/youthprogram for registration details.

Daughtry said this is the first time the public has been able to tour a convention venue.

The podium and stage will be the main attractions during the tours, and Daughtry said they will be “unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.” She offered no hints, however, concerning the design’s innovations.

“Now, if I say any more, the designers will not be happy with me,” she said. “So I’ll just say that this is something that you definitely want to see, and we’ll leave the suspense for a few more weeks.”

Travis Dredd, the DNCC’s deputy CEO of inside-the-hall operations, said the transformation of the Pepsi Center should be complete in time for the open house.

“We’ll be completely done at that point in time,” he said, adding that only some touch-up work may be needed on the Friday before the convention begins.

The day of the open-house ticketing announcement was the last day the media could see the Pepsi Center until the week before the convention, and about 40 workers were busy pushing, pulling and lifting materials in the arena bowl.

They were continuing construction on the stage, podium, media suites and a metal rigging structure, which will hold lights, audio speakers and video screens.

The center scoreboard for the sports arena was raised from 35 feet to 95 feet above the floor, and the ads inside the Pepsi Center were covered.

“You’re seeing the early stages of many things that are going to happen in the bowl,” Dredd said.

He added that the construction site is active 20 hours a day, six days a week, with hundreds of workers both inside and outside the arena.

The media pavilions outside the Pepsi Center now have walls, roofs, lighting, flooring, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Nearby trailers will serve as office space and green rooms during the convention.

Three cable bridges connect the media pavilions to the Pepsi Center. Each bridge is 16 feet high and will hold “hundreds of miles of cable,” Dredd said.

The DNCC media office said some of the optical fiber being installed for the event’s telecommunications and networking will remain to aid Pepsi Center transmissions after the party
is over.