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Too Many Sponsors, Too Few Sky Boxes Equals Plenty of Headaches for Organizers

August 14, 2000|Times staff writers Duke Helfand and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Less than 24 hours before the start of the Democratic National Convention, local organizers still had no final plan for divvying up the most coveted rewards for sponsors: credentials and sky boxes.

Leaders of the host committee were waiting Sunday night to receive their allotment of sky box passes from the Democratic National Convention Committee.

The late notice was generating confusion and fueling rumors about who was going to get what.

Convention insiders late last week said that billionaire Eli Broad, who gave $1 million to the host committee, would be getting one of three host committee boxes, leaving organizers to accommodate 150 other sponsors with only 105 daily sky box credentials. Under that scenario, donors would have to rotate through the sky boxes on different days, and those who had given the most would get the most access.

Insiders also said that Mayor Richard Riordan secured his own sky box access by going over the head of DNCC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to Bill Daley, Al Gore's campaign chairman. Riordan aides would not discuss the matter other than to say that his sky box needs would be met.

About 60 of 160 sky boxes at Staples Center will be occupied by the media. The rest are being divvied up among the host committee and other committees for the House, the Senate, the Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Everyone said they were confident that all would be satisfied in the end.

"I've worked my tail off for the convention," Broad said. "I'm expecting to be treated fairly. . . . I've been assured that I will be happy."

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