CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 got an exclusive behind the scenes look as Democratic National Convention officials plan for President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium in September.
Channel 9 anchor Natalie Pasquarella went along with the head of operations as the crew prepares for tens of thousands of people who will fill the stadium in just months.
It’s a lot to think about for DNC Chief Operating Officer Theo Lecompte and his operations team.
“Making sure that what we see in the plans, does it really work in the space?” Lecompte said.
Lecompte took Pasquarella through the stadium one week ahead of the officials media walk-through.
He is inside the stadium at least once a week leading up to the president’s speech in September.
That is when the stadium, which holds 74,000 people, will be full of delegates, media members, the public and the president.
“What is the toughest thing to prepare for operationally?” Pasquarella asked.
“It’s just making sure that everybody can get in here and get to their sets and get back out safely and efficiently,” Lecompte said.
Aside from managing the huge crowd, another big priority in planning is power.
“We have to bring in supplementary power. We’ll have some generators outside in the parking lots here powering the media, powering our lights and our needs. So, we need to bring in a lot of supplemental power,” he said.
As Lecompte took Channel 9 crews closer to the field, he showed what a basic layout on the field will be: the stage, seating for delegates and positions for local and national media.
In the stands will be public seating. All of these plans are subject to change.
Planning an event of this magnitude is familiar for Lecompte. He worked the 2008 DNC in Denver when President Obama spoke at Invesco Field.
The main stadium changes in Charlotte will begin about four days before the president’s speech.
“There will be a number of crew and staff over here, building our stage, media risers and all the different things that will go on the field, laying all the cable, putting up all the lights. All of this will be happening prior to Thursday in order to get it ready,” he said.
A little more than a week after that, the Panthers will host a game in the stadium. So, the DNC crews will have to have the stadium clear and back to how the team left it.