Trump event overbooked with nearly 20,000 tickets

BURLINGTON — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has issued nearly 20,000 tickets for his Thursday rally at the Flynn Center, a venue that can only hold 1,400 people, police said Wednesday.

More than 6,500 people have “confirmed a desire to attend” using a verifiable email address as of Tuesday evening, the campaign told police. The potential that thousands of people will be turned away prompted police to issue a statement expressing concern about public safety.

The bombastic populist, who has led the Republican field for months, already caused a stir just by announcing the rally in the hometown of Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Some Sanders supporters have vowed to rally against Trump’s presence in the city where the Vermont senator began his political career.

The free, general admission tickets have been issued through the third-party site Eventbrite. As of Wednesday afternoon people could still register. The Flynn Center says it has played no role in ticketing for the event, and the Trump campaign did not return a call from VTDigger seeking comment.

Trump tweeted the suggestion that people show up early, adding that police are saying the event will be “first come, first serve.”

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said it’s possible the Trump campaign allowed the event to become so oversubscribed because of reports that activists were planning to get tickets and then not attend, leaving behind a message with their empty seat.

“I know that it’s very common for campaigns to overbook venues, I’ve just never heard of a campaign overbooking a venue by a factor of 15 to 20,” Chief del Pozo said, adding “If this was a Phish concert it would be canceled, unequivocally.”

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Mayor Miro Weinberger. VTDigger Photo by Morgan True / VTDigger
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Mayor Miro Weinberger. VTDigger Photo by Morgan True / VTDigger

The mayor’s office and city police chose to allow the event to go forward because of a commitment to the First Amendment, the importance of allowing political speech and allowing people to participate in the democratic process, del Pozo said.

“Vermonters value the First Amendment and robust political debate,” Weinberger said. “In that spirit, I welcome Donald Trump and his presidential campaign to Burlington tomorrow.

“I am concerned, however, that the dramatic over-ticketing of the rally could mar Mr. Trump’s visit. Since learning the facts of the ticketing situation late Tuesday, we have repeatedly expressed concern and encouraged the campaign to take steps to better manage the event. There is still time for the campaign to communicate with the thousands of ticket holders to reduce the possibility of inconvenience or a public safety risk for attendees tomorrow night. I urge the Trump Campaign to take responsible steps to ensure the event proceeds smoothly and without incident.”

Activists and others who dislike Trump were encouraging people to secure tickets and stay home. The group Rights and Democracy is planning a “Love and Unity Rally” to oppose Trump’s hateful rhetoric.

Close to 1,000 people had expressed interest in participating in that rally on Facebook. The group’s director, James Haslam, posted on the social media site that allowing the event to become oversubscribed is “evidence they are looking for the spectacle of a fight.” Haslam called on protesters to be peaceful in response.

Chief del Pozo encouraged people who may only have a passing interest in Trump to consider staying home, and asked that his supporters and protesters be respectful of one another.

In an earlier statement from Burlington police said, “We reserve the prerogative to enforce the law in cases where expression or free movement throughout the city is unreasonably stifled through intimidation, force, obstruction, destruction of property, etc., or any other unlawful act.”

Del Pozo said he’s tried to engage Trump’s campaign manager and advance person, but the response has been limited. “We haven’t heard much back, but we’d like to hear from them about what they think we should convey to citizens about what to expect tomorrow.”

The Secret Service and the Fire Marshal will be handling security at the Flynn, and State Police and other law enforcement agencies will be available to help manage the crowd if necessary.

Weinberger praised the proactive response from Burlington police, saying it’s important to set expectations for the public about their prospects of getting into the Flynn.

Weinberger was loath to criticize Trump’s handling of the event, but he did say, “It’s not the way I personally would have managed the event.”

Residents should expect traffic delays and an “acute” lack of parking in the city, especially downtown, police said. Doors at the Flynn open at 5 p.m. and the event starts at 7 p.m., but police say Main Street from Church Street to St. Paul Street will be closed to traffic starting at 1 p.m.

There will be no parking on the City Hall Park side of St. Paul Street from College Street to Main Street. The line for ticket holders will form at the corner of Main Street and St. Paul in front of the Gryphon Bistro and extend around the corner south.

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  • Thomas Gauthier

    Finally. Someone accepts and respects the first amendment.

    • Kendal Sykes

      Really. No one accepted and respected the first amendment before this?

  • Don Rodriguez

    If Chief Brandon del Pozo and Mayor Miro Weinberger wanted to accommodate both the people who really want to see Mr Trump speak (who the majority will likely get shut out of the Flynn) and the protesters, they could televise it on big screens in City Hall Park just like they did for the FIFA Woman’s World Cup this past summer. The city has the screens and there would be a large enough police presence to hopefully maintain order and civility. All in all it would be a good lesson in acceptance of the 1st Amendment whose text includes “prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. The emphasis would most likely have to be placed on “peaceably”.

    • Dev Martin

      It should be a lesson that free speech requires that the government not do certain things; it does not require them to do certain things. Also, that nobody but the government is…the government.

    • samuel shultis

      Patrick gym – uvm

  • Albert Petrarca

    Build the resistance against racism and fascism. All out to the Flynn Thursday night

  • Kendal Sykes

    The more a person opposes Trump’s views, the more you should be in favor of this event and other appearances. It’s the sneaking little liars conducting backroom deals that are the real problem with Vermont and our country. Be peaceful and smart out their folks… don’t look like a bunch of morons if you’re in opposition to The Donald. I’d like to suggest the same to the folks who support him. What an interesting time we live in.

  • Judi Blakely

    If Trump is half as good at math as he is at telling the truth, I’d be worried.

  • Don Peterson

    Welcome to the PT Barnum Center for the Preservation of American Plutocracy. Our advertising budget is completely paid for by people we deliberately goad into paying attention to us.

  • William Hays

    I hope the silly, sneaky Progressives ticket holders, who plan on staying home or attending an alternate Socialist rally, have their seats filled by fair-minded Vermonters. “Feel the Bern” elsewhere.

    • Paul Hobday

      I would say it’s equally important that supporters and detractors come to these events. Clearly the Trump campaign has opted not to allow his detractors to show their dislike for him by purchasing tickets and not coming, so they ought to show up and sit quietly through his performance.
      Perhaps the subtle name calling (“silly, sneaky progressives”) could be laid aside and all could make up their own minds about individual political candidates without the need to poke at each other like school children?

    • Kendal Sykes

      I assume from this comment that he considers himself a “fair-minded Vermonter.” The logic is akin to wondering why your own child is talented, but your neighbor’s kids are just average or below? William, we’re ALL fair-minded… just ask us.

  • Roger Sweatt

    I say that the city of Burlington should roll out he big screens or move to a bigger venue.Why is everyone so scared of Mr. Donald Trump? I think it is a small minority that dose not want to change the present status. Most people are tired of giveaway grants, subsidizing wind and solar power , farm cops, against their wishes. It’s your money taxpayers.
    Bernie’s hometown is Standard, VT. , he came there as a hippie in the early times
    and lived in a tent, so i am told.

    • Peter Liston

      Why is it up to the city and the taxpayers to broadcast Trump’s event? It’s his event. It’s up to him to decide the best location for it.

  • chris jensvold

    wow man,you can’t cancel a fish concert-“power to the correct people”

  • bruce wilkie

    Take this opportunity to protest the Trump. You may not be able to after the election.

  • Ron Pulcer

    Regarding Mayor Weinberger’s comments:

    “I am concerned, however, that the dramatic over-ticketing of the rally could mar Mr. Trump’s visit. Since learning the facts of the ticketing situation late Tuesday, we have repeatedly expressed concern and encouraged the campaign to take steps to better manage the event…”

    Weinberger was loath to criticize Trump’s handling of the event, but he did say, “It’s not the way I personally would have managed the event.”

    The Donald often mentions “Good Management”, but rarely defines it. Maybe tonight will his chance to show America what he really means by “Good Management”!


    I am hoping that all Vermonters in downtown Burlington tonight, whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, whether you like Trump or not, let’s not do anything foolish and have crazy stuff happen as with the Baltimore or Ferguson protests.

    Please keep cool heads. Treat this like Town Meeting Day, where for the most part, people discuss the issues of the day with sense of “civility” with their neighbors.

    Those protesting, please be civil, peaceful and respectful and give Vermont a positive impression.

    Those attending the Trump rally, if the person in the row next to you is wearing a Bernie T-Shirt or some Anti-Trump T-Shirt, or carrying similar signs on the street, don’t pile on them and beat them up, as has been done by a few Trump supporters, and captured on video.

    The Vermont Legislators sang the Vermont State Song this week. Maybe everyone in Burlington can also sing a verse or two. How about Moonlight In Vermont, another low-key and cool tune? Here’s a parody verse:

    Trump is at the Flynn
    La La La La, La La La
    Moonlight In Vermont

    It’s Good Management
    Twenty Thousand seats reserved
    Moonlight In Vermont

  • Ron Pulcer

    20,000 tickets reserved – 1,400 Flynn seats = 18,600 people standing outside in the cold, or in other heated venues. If Bernie Sanders showed up, he could have a bigger rally outside than Trump has indoors. Maybe Larry David could stand-in for Bernie.

  • robert fuller

    I think probably it is being allowed not because of political speech, etc but because there would be quite a bit of backlash if the event was canceled. Trump would just play the victim. Hopefully he will bear the cost of the extra effort.

    Probably the biggest thing out of all of this is the fact that we don’t have any large indoor venues. Patrick Gym only seats 4000, still short the 6500. Nevermind comfort.

    Who knows if Trumps numbers are even correct. I would image any campaign would inflate them to make it look like more people are interested.

  • Willem Post

    Vermont needs a big snowstorm to morrow. Everyone will be busy shoveling, instead of bemoaning their fate.
    Trump shows a profile of courage coming to the most socialistic state in the Union, with recurring budget deficits, due to over eager lawmaking that distributes benefits to the needy and not so needy, without there being the means to pay fo them.

  • Hey Joe Benning … here’s your “toleration of another person’s perceived foibles” Trump & followers style …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s2dm2AuUr0

    • Ron Pulcer

      Thanks Rama for sharing video link. Trump is all about the First Amendment, “for himself” that is!

      I only heard the audio, but tonight Trump was telling his “bouncers” to “confiscate their coats” before people were evicted. Isn’t that called “theft”? First they come for your coats, then your Social Security, your Medicare, and then your 401K. Today and past few days our 401Ks were getting sucked into the Wall Street vortex.

      Here are some interesting “coat” related Bible verses:

      “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining.”


      “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”


      From what I heard of the Trump “speech” it was a rambling bunch of nonsense. I stayed home, and I still have my coat!

    • Adrienne Raymond

      His supporters are far scarier than Trump. Emboldened bullies, just what we need in this country.

  • Margo Howland

    Sorry, I think it’s irresponsible to give out 20,000 tickets for a venue that seats only 1,400. If the tickets had been managed through the Flynn box office this could have been avoided.

  • Steve Allen

    The ants are scrambling! I wish I could be in B-town this evening for the spectacle but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to read the news reports. Numerous polls from both the mainstream media and independent polling organizations indicate that an apparent majority of Americans are fed up with our current politicians and the direction they are taking our country. The fact that this presidential candidate would intentionally campaign on the home turf of the candidate who is his diametric opposite shows a lot of what this nation is lacking (I am sure that sentence will bring on a barrage of comments). America appears to be is sick and tired of the status quo in Washington DC, and hopefully here in Vermont. After Obama’s unfulfilled hope and change rhetoric this appears to be the new direction many are choosing, for better or worse.

    • Jon Corrigan

      The mission was accomplished before Trump ever showed up; showed us the true definition of ‘tolerance’ by the faux progressive intelligentsia.

  • Dave Francis


    Although they say the US job market has declined, more and more Americans are choosing to drop out of the labor force all told and no longer even figure in to the employment figures.

    Sly efforts for the Obama government to disguise the employment picture are a bit like attempting to drive a big rig truck into a single family home garage. It doesn’t work. As Washington sings the praises of last month’s fall in the unemployment data (6.3 percent), as this administration has silently moved more than 988,000 citizens and legal immigrants into the column of “not partaking in the labor force”

    If you add the current number of Americans without a job (9.75 million) to the number of US citizens not in the labor force (92.02), you come up with 101.77 million working age Americans who do not have work, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

    That is why Mr. Donald Trump, nominee for President. Is a driving force in bringing jobs back to America? He has the instinct and is experienced in the world of commerce. He is knowledgeable and far out weighs government negotiators who have placed us in Free Trade agreements that have made other regimes wealthy while ours get literary nothing, except for loss of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in red ink. From his New York offices he has watched our countries economy slip away, through terrible fast track agreements, which were negotiated with incompetent people.

    Trump has already pledged to have some of the most highly skilled personages and experts in writing contracts and along with Trumps top notch handlers will clamp down on bad agreements such as (NAFTA) Mexico specifically, with Japan and China at the top point of the list. Trump knows that all the agreements we have ever made, which will soon include the TPP (The TransPacific partnership was written to make corporations and Industrial CEO’s wealthy not the American people. All these contracts are unilaterally passed without involvement of the American people’s participation.

    Just across our Southern border in Mexico is a giant complex of American businesses importing cars, trucks, and the parts–completely free of Tariffs (taxes?) It is the same with the large range of foreign countries who import. Trump said in his commentary he has seen the giant container ships docking in San Pedro, Los Angeles and Japanese cars unloaded by the thousands. Nothing for the American coffers except huge deficits, loss jobs and the multinational companies paying little or no taxes as they have reestablished themselves.

    U.S. goods and private services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $536 billion in 2012 (latest data available). Exports totaled $243 billion; Imports totaled $293 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Mexico was $49 billion in 2012. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Japan was $57 billion in 2012. The U.S. goods trade deficit with China was $318 billion in 2013. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Saudi Arabia was $31 billion in 2012. So YOU tell me whose getting screwed? To repeat we are the greatest consumer nation in the world, and yet we have an inept bunch of negotiators who certainly are not looking out for the American people’s welfare.

    In the works is President Obama currently negotiating Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreements that, if enacted, are likely to result in increased outsourcing and growing job losses, especially in the manufacturing sector? He has asked Congress for “Fast Track” authority, which would allow him to submit trade agreements to Congress without giving members of Congress the occasion to revise the deal. Experience has shown that these trade deals have resulted in massive job losses for American workers,

    Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research, Steven Camarota, used wage data provided by the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as evidence that there is no labor shortage in H-2B visa occupations, which were increased in the recently passed omnibus spending bill.

    According to the ACS wages in most of the top occupations that use the H-2B visa to import foreign workers have been in decline from 2007-2014. There was a slight increase in wages for construction laborers but only the maid and housekeeping occupations showed a significant wage increase. Director Camarota writes that this shows that there is no labor shortage since wages would rise considerably as employers try to enlist new workers.

    The labor shortage argument was used by the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), to support the provision in the omnibus spending bill that could quadruple the number of H-2B foreign workers in the U.S.

    The omnibus bill provision allows any foreign worker who has received an H-2B visa in the last three years to be excluded from the 66,000 H-2B visa cap. This could raise the number of H-2B visa workers in the U.S. to around 264,000.

    The H-2B visa was designed to bring in low-skilled, temporary, and seasonal workers. This provision would increase the job competition for some of America’s most vulnerable families during a time when jobs are still hard to find for lower skilled jobs. Employers like to hire H-2B workers because their visa is tied to to the company, which prevents many from complaining or unionizing when mistreated. Recently Buzzfeed did an expose on the H-2B visa and how it replaces American workers and exploits foreign workers.

    Want the truth in US and foreign news then go to ONE AMERICAN NEWS NETWORK, http://www.oann.com/ on cable TV or Internet; a family runs broadcasting station that gives you the fact, not the Republican or Democratic agendas.