An article published several days ago written by an anonymous attendee made the claim that the management for the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma sabotaged attendance for the campaign rally by President Trump held there last Saturday resulting in thousands of empty seats in the BOK Center and the cancellation of plans for Trump and Vice President Pence to speak to an expected overflow crowd of thousands on a stage set up just outside the arena before speaking at the rally inside.
The fire marshal and arena management put attendance at just over 6,000 while the Trump campaign claimed 12,000 had cleared metal detectors.
A June 25 report by Armstrong Economics claimed that early in the day on Saturday BOK Center staff had placed stickers on every other seat in the arena barring use thereby cutting in half the attendance of the 19,199 seat arena. That report was not corroborated until Friday and Saturday when Billboard and the Washington Post respectively reported on the stickers and pushback by the Trump campaign that had campaign workers peeling the stickers off the seats right before the rally.
The other allegations of sabotage made by the attendee are that BOK Center temperature screeners were pulled off the job hours early, thereby making it impossible for rally attendees to get the green wristbands needed to advance to the Secret Service metal detectors for entry into the arena and the overflow stage area for the Trump and Pence speeches, and that cleared attendees were only allowed inside the arena in groups of one hundred at a time.
What makes the allegation of an effort to drive down attendance plausible is the celebratory tweet the night of the rally by Jay Marciano, head of the management company for the BOK Center, AEG–part of ASM Global, on the low recorded attendance, “Lying Don’s show in Tulsa is a big fat STIFF! There are only 6624 people in the arena. So much for “There were requests for 1 million.” Total lies. Are we surprised??
Screen image via Showbiz411
…5. The BOK center just before the doors opened had block off every other seat in the arena so the arena could only hold about 9500 people.
6. After continued back and forth with the trump campaign, something happened to allow more people in (in groups of just 100 at a time). We had to wait about 30 minutes each time for them to let just 100 of us trickle into the building. I am not talking about their security- we had already passed through metal detectors and everything. You could actually run into the building each time they would let just 100 of us in at a time, but that was just just wrong and corrupt on BOK management’s part. They removed the stickers/rule on every other seat – that is true, but only after they shut down all entry to the “event location”.
7. I looked over at the screening area and told my wife- something fishy is gong on- 2 hours before the rally – the screeners have left. I told her- no one can get to the stage/overflow area or the BOK center with the “temperature screeners” gone. It is like the people that collect tickets say- I am done we are leaving.
8. They left their posts and from what I am learning- thousands could not get in to the first checkpoint because the temperature screeners had to put green wrist band on you to gain access to the Secret Service security checkpoint. No green band— no entry to the security check point.
9. I think the BOK management told the screeners – we have reached the capacity for what we are letting into the BOK center, so shut down- do not allow the other Trump supporters to get a temperature check and no more green wrist bands. Do not issue green wrist bands so they can get into the holding area to see the stage for the outdoor Trump Rally.
10. It was all a setup to make it look like the crowds did not show up. The crowds DID show up and after 5pm,- 2 hours before the event- no one was there to let them get to security…
End excerpt. Please read the complete article at Armstrong Economics.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that the BOK Center purchased 12,000 stickers to block off seats which would have brought attendance to around 7,000 in the 19,199 seat venue–close to what the head of AEG gloat-tweeted the night of the rally.
In the hours before his rally in Tulsa, President Trump’s campaign directed the removal of thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats in the arena that were intended to establish social distance between rallygoers, according to video and photos obtained by The Washington Post and a person familiar with the event.
The removal contradicted instructions from the management of the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena in downtown Tulsa where Trump held his rally on June 20. At the time, coronavirus cases were rising sharply in Tulsa County, and Trump faced intense criticism for convening a large crowd for an indoor political rally, his first such event since the start of the pandemic.
As part of its safety plan, arena management had purchased 12,000 do-not-sit stickers for Trump’s rally, intended to keep people apart by leaving open seats between attendees. On the day of the rally, event staff had already affixed them on nearly every other seat in the arena when Trump’s campaign told event management to stop and then began removing the stickers, hours before the president’s arrival, according to a person familiar with the event who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters…
Billboard was first to report on the seat sticker controversy with an article published Friday (excerpt):
Hours before President Donald Trump took the stage last Saturday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for his first rally in the COVID-19 era, arena workers were busy labeling thousands of seats with “Do Not Sit Here Please!” stickers to promote social distancing, part of a new safety protocol at the arena known as VenueShield.
Campaign staff quickly radioed over to an executive at ASM Global and asked the arena to stop labeling the seats. In fact, “they also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue,” says Doug Thornton, executive vp for ASM Global, who oversees nearly 100 arenas across five continents for the venue management company created by the 2019 merger of AEG and SMG.
Thorton said ASM was simply following the company’s new VenueShield program, developed with doctors, industry experts and infectious disease specialists to prevent the spread of coronavirus at ASM’s 325 venues worldwide. The event was general admission-only meaning all seats were first come, first serve. The stickers were a mandatory component of VenueShield, ASM continued stickering every other seat when something unexpected happened: “The campaign went through and removed the stickers,” says Thornton.
A video created by a third party and reviewed by Billboard shows Trump staffers methodically walking the aisles of BOK Center and peeling the three-inch square stickers from thousands of chairs ahead of the “Make America Great Again” rally. (Trump’s campaign did not respond to Billboard’s request for comment.)…
…While organizers faced criticism for staging a rally during a pandemic, Thornton says ASM had no legal basis to stop the event. The state’s Republican governor, its nine state supreme court justices and Tulsa’s Republican mayor signed off on the event and said it had a legal right to move forward — although mayor G.T. Bynum later said he would have supported ASM Global if it had canceled the rally, prompting mayoral aide Jack Graham to resign in protest…
…But even if ASM Global had wanted to cancel the rally, Thornton didn’t think the company had the legal authority to block the President from using the publicly-owned arena. Oklahoma state law was clear, Thornton says?: Since the state had entered phase 3 of its reactivation plan, full capacity events like the Trump campaign rally were allowed, and the city’s public safety agencies had already signed off on the event.
End excerpt. Please read the complete Billboard article at this link.