From the minute Bubba's motorcade hit Lake Shore Drive last Friday, it was chaos for Gate 16. When the Secret Service closed off seven gates at Soldier Field during the president's attendance at the World Cup game, Gate 16 got the overflow.
As a Gate 16 ticket taker, I saw 13,000-plus ticket holders trying to cram into two lines in 95-degree heat. As a security guard I saw many patrons leave at halftime because they simply couldn't stand the heat. One German visitor commented, "There's no air up there. You can't even breathe." Patrons attempting to step outside the arena at halftime to get some relief were told official Soldier Field policy: once you leave, you're not permitted back inside. Needless to say, some of our visitors from around the world were very angry.
Aside from those shortcomings, everything ran pretty smoothly. One fellow flexed his knowledge of American political humor when he said to me, in broken English: "I hear that President Clinton is here." When I responded in the affirmative, he responded with: "Is her husband with her?"
Welcome, citizens of the world, welcome to Chicago! We hope you will notice everything wonderful about our wonderful city. If, on your short happy visit to our cosmopolis, you should happen to miss your bus to Soldier Field and end up at Comiskey Park, I would like to direct your special attention to the notices posted on the back walls of the concession stands, the little signs that read:
REMINDER!!! DURING THE WORLD CUP,WE WILL HAVE MANY FOREIGN GUESTS.
DO NOT ACCEPT FOREIGN CURRENCY OR TRAVELERS CHECKS!
Welcome to Chicago, world-class city.