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CONVENTION 2000 / THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

The Stage Is Set

August 13, 2000

For 34 days, more than 1,000 construction workers have been converting Staples Center into an immense stage for the Democrats' $50-million extravaganza.

Compared to 1960, the last time a Democratic convention hit town, it's a gargantuan undertaking. Then, only the third time political conventions had been televised, three TV networks built complete studios at the Sports Arena. Now there are facilities to accommodate 253 television and radio stations plus more than 100 Internet broadcasters. In all, 700 computers have been installed at the convention hall, along with 56 electronic voting stations for delegates. The stage is a 14,000-square-foot temporary floor laid over what is more commonly a basketball court or hockey rink. To light this huge space, technicians have suspended 4,000 feet of light trusses with 14,500 theatrical lights.

Though unfinished details remained, the symbolic end of the job was Wednesday, when the Democrats unveiled their podium. The podium was introduced in a Las Vegas-style production of techno music, spotlights and special-effects fog.

It all has to be gone by Sept. 13 for the Latin Grammy Awards.

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