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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, November 08, 2018 3:30 pm

Trump sets Coliseum attendance record

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

President Donald Trump's campaign rally drew as many as 18,000 people to the Memorial Coliseum grounds on Monday evening, the building's general manager said.

"It's the largest convocation crowd in the 66-year history of the building," Randy Brown said Thursday in a telephone interview.

Trump came to Fort Wayne to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun, who a day later defeated Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana's general election.

Brown said 14,306 were inside the Coliseum, including at least 11,647 in the arena, where Trump spoke, with the rest gathered in overflow areas in the conference center, which provided video feeds. He guessed that a few thousand more were in the parking lot watching the rally on a large video screen.

Brown said Trump's campaign team and his Security Service detail "were very pleased" with the Coliseum and its staff. In an earlier email, Brown had written that the rally "came off without a hitch" and that organizers "told us that if they could they would pick us up and move the Coliseum to all future event locations because we anticipated their needs and delivered what we promised."

Brown, operations vice president Bryan Christie and plant facilities manager Rich Thoma were called to meet Trump. Brown said the president wanted to know how the crowd size compared with the huge audience he drew to the Coliseum as a candidate in 2016.

"I was prepared. 'Well, sir, you're going to be happy. You sold this space out, you filled that space, you've got a lot of people outside.' I got a thumbs up on that from him," Brown said.

Trump told his arena audience: "You wanna see something special? Take a look outside at the thousands and thousands of people that wanted to get inside. You got lucky." The indoor audience cheered.