Parking will be tight around the University of Minnesota Saturday when President Obama appears outdoors on the Northrop Mall for a rally to support gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton and other DFL office-seekers.
Nearby, the Gopher football team will be hosting Penn State at its new stadium at 11 a.m., so tens of thousands of people will already be on campus when the entrances open for the Obama event at 12:30 p.m.
The rally is free, and no tickets are required. Entry gates will be on the north end of Coffman Memorial Union plaza at the start of the small bridges that connect the Coffman plaza to Northrop Mall. Everyone entering will undergo airport-like security including screening by metal detector.
And for security reasons, officials say no laptops, backpacks, folding chairs, metal or plastic drink bottles, or bags or purses “larger than a standard sheet of paper” will be allowed into the area.
Also, no posters or signs of any size and no food or drink can be carried in, although they say refreshments will be available from concession stands on Northrop Mall. Personal cameras, binoculars and video cameras are permitted, but strollers aren’t.
Because of the tight parking situation, those attending the rally are urged to walk, bike or take the bus.
The University notes that Obama is the fourth president to visit the campus. Others were:
- Theodore Roosevelt, April 4, 1903. About 4,000 people filled the University’s armory to hear him speak.
- William Howard Taft, Oct. 24, 1911. He “spoke fondly” of the work of Cyrus Northrop, who had retired earlier that year as the University’s president.
- George W. Bush, July 11, 2002. He visited the Academic Health Center and took part in a discussion on advances in research, new drug therapies and ways to improve care.
University officials are also careful to say:
“This is a political event. The University of Minnesota is pleased to be the venue for the event, however, it does not endorse political candidates or campaigns.”