President Obama at UB Proves to be Hot Ticket

10:20 PM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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AMHERST, NY - University at Buffalo officials continue to make preparations for President Obama, who  will be speak at Alumni Arena during his visit to WNY on Thursday.

Doors to the arena will open at 9am.  President Obama is expected to speak at 11:15am on making a college education more affordable.  The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entrance. Approximately 6,000 people are expected to attend the President's speech at Alumni Arena.

Tickets were distributed to the public and to UB students, staff, and faculty who won a ticket lottery on Tuesday.

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At its peak, the line of members of general public hoping to secure tickets to see the President speak reached a distance of close to 1/2 mile, and included more than 1,200 people. The person at the front of the line said she arrived at 1:30 am Monday, more than 15 hours before they were set to be distributed at 5pm that afternoon on a first-come first-served basis. 

"We were warned that this would happen. Other colleges we talked to who've hosted President Obama said the public interest is a little bit overwhelming sometimes," UB Spokesman John DellaContrada told WGRZ-TV. 

Though people in line were told several times by members of the University Police Department that 1,000 tickets were being made available, many of the estimated 500 who were turned away expressed scepticism that 1,000 were actually handed out when they disappeared less than 45 minutes after they began being distributed.

"I don't know," snapped a woman, who clearly appeared to be in charge of the ticket distribution inside the Alumni Arena, when asked how many tickets were distributed. "Why don't you ask someone with the university?" a man leaving the building with her curtly suggested.

DellaContrada referred all inquiries to the White House Press Office, including questions regarding how many tickets had been reserved for university students, faculty, staff, and supporters, and which were distributed through a lottery by the university. 

Several of those who got tickets were whooping and shouting with joy upon emerging from the arena.

This was in stark contrast to those who did not get a ticket, and fell just short of realizing their dream.

"It's just one of those things,...we tried I guess," said a man who narrowly missed acquiring a ticket after he was stopped feet from the door by a uniformed police officer who told him the person in front of him would claim the last ticket.

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