‘You know if we have three or four empty seats, the fake news will say, “Hey, they didn’t fill it up”…’
(Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel) President Donald Trump’s Orlando campaign rally drew 19,792 spectators, according to official turnstile counts released by the city of Orlando on Wednesday, just shy of capacity for the Amway Center.
The arena’s website lists 20,000 as the maximum NCAA basketball capacity, with 19,700 for a center stage concert and 16,000 for an end stage concert. But a city spokesperson gave a capacity of 20,000 when asked how many people could have been allowed inside Tuesday.
The arena is owned by the city.
Trump said during his 78-minute speech that his campaign received 120,000 requests for the event.
“You know if we have three or four empty seats, the fake news will say, ‘Hey, they didn’t fill it up,'” Trump said at the rally. “They said, maybe we shouldn’t go to Orlando, we should go someplace else. I said, no, go to Orlando. Not only did we fill it up, we had 120,000 requests.”
Anyone could have requested two tickets at the Trump campaign’s website before the event, with a text verification required. Seating in the arena was mostly first-come, first-serve.
While most of the sections were filled to capacity, several sections in the upper tier of the arena had empty seats as the time approached for Trump to start his speech. But there also was a standing-room-only section on the arena floor in front of the stage that was crowded with people.
About an hour before Trump began to speak at 8:14 p.m., the long lines snaking around the Amway Center were gone and people could easily walk into the event. Only a few dozen people watched on screens outside at the campaign’s “45 Fest.”
The weather Tuesday included thunderstorms and was hot and steamy for the people in lines snaking around several city blocks. Trump supporters started camping out near the arena nearly two days before the event.
After the speech, Robert Orlick, 15, and Logan Miller, 17, described feeling a sense of camaraderie inside the arena.
“It was so fun—just meeting all the people,” Logan said, and Robert admitted he lost his voice after the rally.
(Staff writer Michael Williams contributed to this report.)
(c)2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.