CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hundreds of ticketholders were stranded outside the Democratic National Convention ahead of President Barack Obama's acceptance speech here tonight, after officials said the arena reached capacity and closed the doors.
The lockout came after forecast storms forced organizers to move the final night of the convention from Bank of America Stadium to the smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two nights of the convention were held.
An official told a crowd outside the arena gate that the local fire marshal apologized and called the situation "embarrassing." The official said the gate would not re-open and that no ticketholders - even delegates and special guests - would be admitted.
Democratic Party officials had said the convention would be the most open to the public in history, and Scott Gartlan, a Charlotte man who was among those waiting at the gate, said the party put its "foot in it."
However, he said, "I understand it." He planned to go home and cheer while watching Obama on TV.
Some members of the crowd dispersed after the official said the gate would remain closed, but others remained. Religious protesters moved their small demonstration to the location from up the street to take advantage of the crowd, while a man selling water arrived with bottles for $1.
PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Gartlan of Charlotte waits outside the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders