On Thursday night, after his rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena, President Trump delightedly tweeted, “Tonight, we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena in Manchester, New Hampshire!”
Trump was mocked by many people on social media:
But according to Manchester Deputy Fire Marshal Mitchell Cady, who supervised the counting of the crowd, Trump was correct. Cady told The Daily Mail that the attendance was “just over 11,500.” He added that “the arena staff said Elton John was around 11,300” in April 2004. Cady pointed out that according to his office, at least 8,000 people stood outside the arena watching Trump’s rally on jumbo TV screens. He said, “We weren’t counting it but we estimated probably in the area of 8,000 to 9,000 out front.” On Friday, Cady said he and two deputies examined the physical boundaries of the outdoor crowd on Thursday night, adding, “We measured out the space this morning. Based on the calculations we use for crowd load, we came to either 8 or 9 [thousand].”
Cady said he may have underestimated the number of people in the arena, asserting, “Had some more snuck in during the period when we’re trying to assess the situation and get the door closed, when we’re trying to get everyone through the mags (walk-through metal detectors), then maybe it’s 11,500-plus.”
One arena official added that although there were empty “nosebleed seats,” there were “people cramming themselves into the standing-room space on the arena floor … The Trump people wanted the fire marshal to let more people in, and at some point they say no. But there were tons and tons more outside. It’s not like they couldn’t fill the place.’
The seating capacity for the Southern New Hampshire University Arena is 11,770 for concerts.
Ironically, on Wednesday, columnist Gail Collins wrote in The New York Times of a “good way to torture Donald Trump,” suggesting, “If we want to really make him crazy, we ought to start a rumor that he can’t draw a crowd.” She added, “Trump can’t bear suggestions that he’s not a crowd megamagnet. Every time he gets on a stage, he seems compelled to claim the audience is of epic proportions. The place is packed! Not to mention the masses waiting outside!”
Speaking of Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Collins concluded:
What if the headlines read “Disappointing Crowd for a Presidential Visit” and the stories focused on the fact that earlier this year in nearby Pittsburgh, Trevor Noah drew a healthy turnout at an arena that seats 12,500? Not responsible journalism. But maybe it’d shock him into reality. Or at least leave him curled up in bed, sucking his thumb while somebody else ran the government.