Details of Obama Grant Park rally released

October 22, 2008 8:25:40 PM PDT
Barack Obama's campaign has revealed plans for the Democratic nominee's election night rally in Chicago. It will be held in Grant Park and on Wednesday, a campaign spokesperson addressed questions about the city's role in the event and who will pay for it.

Organizers are preparing for a crowd of about 100,000 people. The rally will be held at the south end of Grant Park on Hutchinson Field.

A week from next Tuesday, the softball fields at Grant Park will be inundated with people, whether barack obama wins or not, hoping to witness history

There are a dozen days until the election, and there are fresh tire tracks at the venue for the Democratic nominee's rally that night -- a series of softball fields on the southeast end of Grant Park. Slightly below grade, Hutchinson Field can hold 40,000 people after a security perimeter is established. All around, Chicago shouts out its presence -- something the world will see when Obama comes to speak November 4 -- win or lose.

"Every time his name is mentioned, it is going to be associated with Chicago, and that helps our reputation, not only domestically but around the world," said President Jerry Roper, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

The Obama campaign, fresh off a 100,000-person weekend rally in St. Louis, met with city officials and media representatives Wednesday to go over election night details. In tight economic times, the Illinois senator's people will pay for "substantial" private security, park clean-up, and emergency personnel. But like any big event, Chicago police will be out in full force, and the mayor, in the midst of cutting budgets for 2009, has the city negotiating with the presidential candidate.

"That's what we're talking about," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. "That will be the issue."

Hotel reservations are starting to fill, and bars and restaurants expect to do brisk business as the world comes to Chicago to bear witness to the fortunes of the Democratic nominee. It's scrutiny that is, perhaps, a sign of things to come.

"This is a historic election with an African American from Chicago becoming president of the United States, I think that this really positions us as a city on the grand, global scale," Roper said.

The 40,000 at Hutchinson are expected to be joined by tens of thousands all around Grant Park, and the Obama campaign has to worry that Election Day volunteers might be pulled away from battleground polls in northwestern Indiana and southern Wisconsin to be there. And that is why the campaign is making sure to call all of this planning for election night, not a victory party.


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