Trump Gets Mixed Reception At CFP; Presence Causes Long Lines Getting Into Stadium
President Trump walked onto the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium prior to last night's Alabama-Georgia CFP title game and was "greeted by a smattering of applause and boos before he stood with ROTC members for the national anthem," according to Brent Griffiths of POLITICO.com. Footage of his brief appearance shows him "singing along to the national anthem" (POLITICO.com, 1/8). USA TODAY's Lindsay Schnell notes Trump was "mostly cheered when he walked out of the tunnel but at the conclusion of the anthem was loudly booed." Officials shut down Mercedes-Benz Stadium about 5:45pm ET when Trump was on his way, "leaving thousands of fans (and some media members) stranded in the rain until the president was inside the stadium." There were "resounding boos" when Trump arrived almost an hour later. There were "no on-field protests" by any players, as college teams are "typically kept in the locker room during pregame festivities." As Alabama players were walking down the tunnel and onto the field, RB Bo Scarbrough was "caught on video yelling, 'F*** Trump!'" (USA TODAY, 1/9). THE HILL's Jacqueline Thomsen noted protesters last night "projected the message 'F--- Trump' on the front of the stadium" (THEHILL.com, 1/8). Trump left the game "before Kendrick Lamar's halftime performance" (TWITTER.com, 1/8).
LONG LINES LEAD TO FRUSTRATION: ESPN.com's Anderson, Dinich & Scarborough noted most fans appeared seated by kickoff, but many attending last night's game said that they "waited in security lines for more than an hour, and in some cases much longer." Fans had to "get through security outside the stadium, which was being administered by the U.S. Secret Service because of Trump's visit." A security official said that "most of the congestion happened at Gate 4, and that much of it was relieved by directing people around the stadium to Gate 1." By kickoff, most of the lines outside the stadium "seemed to have dissipated." But many fans still were "upset as they rushed to their seats." This marked the first time a sitting U.S. president "attended a game that resulted in a college football national championship" since President Carter attended the '81 Georgia-Notre Dame Sugar Bowl. Meanwhile, at least one fan said that some people had "difficulty pulling up their mobile tickets on their cellphones because the Wi-Fi and cellular service wasn't working" (ESPN.com, 1/8). In Atlanta, Christian Boone notes there were reports of "fights between fans impatient with the long lines." Some frustrated ticket-holders even "scrapped with law enforcement officers after Gate 1 was shut down in advance of the president’s arrival." The lines were constant, "no matter how early fans arrived." By 5:30pm, "nearly three hours before game time, the wait to get into the stadium was running about an hour" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/9). In L.A., David Wharton writes the scene outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium "verged on chaos" 90 minutes prior to kickoff. Some fans "stood in tears at the barricades and one man jostled with a local police officer" (L.A. TIMES, 1/9).
NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN: In Indianapolis, Jon Sauber notes the '22 CFP title game will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium, making Indianapolis the "first northern city" to host the game. Members of the city's bid team "spent this week in Atlanta" to get a "better understanding of the event, and perhaps how to improve on it." CFP Exec Dir Bill Hancock said of Indianapolis, "It’s a great city to host events like ours. It has the infrastructure, the people, and the proven track record with all of the Final Fours and the Super Bowl" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/9).