Special Events
Jackson "Miracle" Memorial  Event Runs Smoothly

Jackson "Miracle" Memorial Event Runs Smoothly

Strategic event planning before the fact headed off problems.

The mega memorial for pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles yesterday ran so smoothly that a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times it was "a miracle." The LAPD did not make a single arrest despite the allure of the special event, held at Staples Center, which drew celebrities from Stevie Wonder to Usher to Brooke Shields.

Some 1.6 million Jackson fans vied to win one of the 17,500 free tickets to the tribute, according to AEG Worldwide, which owns Staples Center.

PLANNERS' FORESIGHT PRAISED

With fears that hundreds of thousands of ticket-less fans might show up, city officials planned the event carefully, using strategies praised by Mark Flaisher, head of L.A.-based Mark Flaisher Entertainment. His firm has overseen mammoth events including the Walt Disney Concert Hall opening and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

In an interview with Special Events on Monday, Flaisher said he thought the LAPD "has done a wonderful job" of preparing for this event. "The LAPD deployed officers last week at Staples Center, showing great foresight."

Flaisher also praised AEG's lottery system, which had those lucky enough to land a seat pick up their ticket and wristbands at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium, "a safe distance away from Staples Center."

According to reports, only about 1,000 fans turned up at Staples Center, far fewer than the hordes forecast. This greatly reduced the need for police.

"I think the LAPD and [L.A.] Councilmember Jan Perry made the correct decision to simultaneously tell the public to stay away from the event and to shut down the area within two blocks of Staples Center/Nokia Theatre," Flaisher said, "to make it unproductive for people to stand around the perimeter."

He added, "The Jackson family made a great decision to provide a free television feed to all television stations." This move also reduced the allure for fans to be in the area.

The true problem—how to pay for it all. Controversy is already brewing about who will cover the city's costs—estimated at between $2 million and $4 million--connected with the event. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even twitters for donations to recoup the city's costs.

TBA GLOBAL'S LESLIE HARRIS ON PLANNING MEGA PUBLIC EVENTS

Leslie Harris, executive vice president of production with TBA Global, shares how she would handle a mega event such as the Michael Jackson memorial. Click here.

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