Obama Paying For Election Night Rally

11/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

UPDATE 10/28

The City of Chicago has retained security consultant Neil Sullivan to aid with the Obama rally planning at a rate of $100-an-hour with a $60,000 cap, the Sun-Times reports.

Sullivan had been hired to coordinate security for potential World Series appearances by the Cubs and White Sox and "turned his full-attention to Election Night" once both teams were eliminated from contention, the paper reports.

UPDATE 10/27

The Chicago Park District had yet to receive a permit application as of Monday evening for the Obama election night rally planned for Grant Park in eight days, the Tribune reports. Construction of a temporary stage and other facilities is already underway.

Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications chief Raymond Orozco said Monday that the event would be smaller than the Taste of Chicago, but with "a tighter security buffer," according to the Tribune.


Should Obama have chosen Soldier Field as the site of his election night rally instead of Grant Park?

Lee Flosi, a retired FBI agent who oversaw security for the 1994 World Cup events in Chicago, said in an interview with NBC 5's Phil Rogers that it would be far safer for the campaign to hold the rally in the contained NFL stadium than in the sprawling outdoor park:

"Soldier Field would be a much more safe environment. ... It's going to be difficult to identify the threat [in Grant Park]"

Watch the interview:

Mayor Daley said he suggested the United Center, one of the few other spaces downtown large enough for the rally, but the idea was dismissed by the Obama campaign, which wanted an outdoor venue.

An Obama spokesman said the United Center "was not an option" because it was booked for a Celine Dion concert.

UPDATE 10/24

The Texas concert promoters who put on Lollapalooza will be staging Obama's Grant Park rally, Jim DeRogatis reports in the Sun-Times:

C3, based in Austin -- just blocks from the Texas capitol where President Bush launched his political career -- is becoming an increasingly powerful player on the Chicago scene, with close ties to Mayor Daley. Though several sources connected to the production confirmed C3's involvement, city officials said they could not.


Mayor Richard Daley pegged the city costs of Barack Obama's election night rally in Grant Park at $2 Million.

Daley said he had hoped Obama would have chosen the United Center for the event, but he was in no position to argue with the campaign:

Asked if he objected to Obama's decision to hold the rally in Grant Park, Daley said, "Could you see me saying no to Sen. Obama? Give me a break. I'm not that dumb."

The mayor said the indoor United Center "would be much easier but the campaign so far ... wants to do it in the open. They applied for the permit."

The room erupted when Daley joked about saying no to Obama. Watch below:


City workers have begun preparing Grant Park for the event, CLTV reported. A stage was being assembled near Columbus and Roosevelt and portable heaters were unloaded from trucks, though the park remains largely free of obstruction.

Watch video of the first phases coming together:

Barack Obama's campaign promised it would foot the bill for its election night rally in Grant Park, which is expected to draw thousands to park's southern end.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"They have assured us that they're willing to pay," said Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokeswoman Jennifer Martinez, adding that the city had yet to hit the total button. "We're still outlining what some of these things will entail."

The U.S. Secret Service--and ultimately federal taxpayers--pays for nearly all the security around Obama. The city and state are likely to bill the campaign for things like street closures, crowd control outside a secure area in Grant Park, help with motorcades and overtime for public safety workers.

"In addition to the normal permit fees paid for park rentals, the campaign is already making arrangements to assure that city resources are not used to clean up the park following the event," Obama campaign spokesman Justin DeJong said. "The campaign is also paying for substantial private security and EMS [emergency medical] services to limit the need for city services surrounding the event."

Mayor Daley said earlier Wednesday that the city was in discussions with the campaign about the costs of the event:

The city is currently facing a more than $460 Million budget deficit and could hardly afford to pickup the likely massive costs associated with the rally.

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