Planning Michael Jackson’s Memorial A ‘Phenomenal Undertaking’

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LOS ANGELES — Now that the Jackson family has officially confirmed the memorial service for Michael Jackson will be taking place at the Staples Center, plans are underway to prepare the area for the onslaught of visitors, both invited and uninvited, expected to make their way to downtown Los Angeles next week. Only 17,500 tickets will be made available to Jackson fans through an online drawing, with 11,000 mourners allowed inside the Staples Center and the rest of the 6,500 attendees sent across Chick Hearn Court to watch a live simulcast inside the Nokia Theater.

The total capacity for the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, is approximately 20,000. According to previous reports, however, an estimated 750,000 people from around the world are expected to travel to the city for the proceedings. On Friday (July 3), both L.A. city councilwoman Jan Perry and a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, Earl Pacinger, spoke at a press conference outside of the Staples Center and urged fans to stay away from the venue on Tuesday should they not receive a ticket. Pacinger called the planning for Tuesday’s event a “phenomenal undertaking.” According to Pacinger, police will block off a large area outside of the arena that appears to be four times the radius of the Staples Center compound.

But the size of the plazas outside of the Staples Center and the Nokia Theater pale in comparison to public areas around the world like New York’s Times Square or London’s Trafalgar Square. In addition, during the preparation that will take place over the holiday weekend, arena officials will have to deal with an Anime Expo taking place right next door at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

A number of those attendees travel directly through Star Plaza, in front of the Staples Center, to make their way to the convention center. The expo ends on Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was previously expected to move into the Staples Center to prepare for a short run at the arena that was to begin on Wednesday. But AEG Live, the controlling company that owns the Staples Center, reportedly asked the circus to set up shop later than expected. The preparation for the memorial service will be anything but easy.

The Staples Center is not located in a very open area, resting between a number of other buildings nearby. Pacinger said fans without wristbands and tickets and media without proper credentials for the service would not be allowed anywhere near the arena. Police will be enforcing the restricted area. Councilwoman Perry reiterated the city’s concern about the expected turnout, saying, “We cannot jeopardize the health and safety of the public. Without a ticket, the best option for viewing the services for this extraordinary individual is at home.”

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