Fans heading to Los Angeles for Michael Jackson’s memorial extravaganza have been urged to stay away as organizers said tickets for the event would be allocated by an online lottery.
Pop icon Jackson’s sudden death on June 25 sparked a worldwide outpouring of grief and hundreds of thousands of devotees are expected to descend on Los Angeles for Tuesday’s memorial at the Staples Center.
However, in a clear attempt to deter large numbers of ticketless fans from besieging the venue and creating a logistical nightmare, city officials said on Friday the entire area would be put on lockdown.
“If you do not have a ticket ... not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area,” Los Angeles Police Department chief Earl Paysinger said.
The warning came as officials revealed tickets for the event would be distributed via an Internet lottery, with fans registering at the Staples Center’s Web site to enter a draw from Friday onwards.
About 11,000 tickets would be made available for the event inside the main venue, while an additional 6,500 tickets would be distributed for fans watching a live feed at the neighboring Nokia Theater. Within minutes of the draw being announced, the Staples Center Web site had crashed. Representatives for the Jackson family later said the site had received 500 million hits in less than two hours.
The decision to hold an online draw — open only to US residents — disappointed fans already gathered at the Staples Center, some of whom had flown into Los Angeles from overseas in anticipation of the event.
“Oh no, you mean it’s useless to wait here?” Tokyo resident Chi Sato said. “I really, really love Michael Jackson.”
Madonna was to perform a special tribute to Jackson yesterday in London at the venue where the late singer was due to stage his farewell concerts. No information about where Jackson would be buried or what Tuesday’s service would comprise was given.
The Jacksons earlier quashed the idea of a public viewing and private service at the singer’s Neverland Ranch, which posed headaches because of its remote location in ritzy Santa Barbara.