COLUMBIA — Shortly before gates opened to Sen. Barack Obama's rally Thursday, the line of supporters stretched almost a mile long. From the Carnahan Quadrangle, the line went north on Conley Avenue, east on University Avenue, south on Hitt Street, east on Rollins Street and then north on College Avenue almost to the intersection of University Avenue.
Candidates for state and local office are set to speak before Obama's address Thursday at MU, campaign spokespersons report.
An official with the Missouri Campaign for Change confirmed via news release that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon will introduce Obama.
A spokesman for Judy Baker's campaign for Missouri's 9th Congressional District said Baker would speak directly prior to Nixon.
Phil Shocklee, director of campus facilities, could not confirm when buildings surrounding the quad would be closed today, but a building coordinator for Cornell Hall — housing MU's Trulaske College of Business in the southwest corner of the quad — said all access would be shut off beginning at 5:30 p.m.
MU Police, on the department's Web site (www.mupolice.com/oct30.php), reiterated that lawn chairs and umbrellas are prohibited at tonight's event but stated that bottled water and cameras will be permitted.
Portable toilets have been set up outside the venue.
Gates will open at 7:30 p.m. There will be access for people with disabilities on the south side of the quad near Rollins Street.
On Thursday afternoon, the Obama campaign announced that after the MU rally Obama will come back to Missouri on Saturday night with a rally at Parkview High School in Springfield.
Saturday's visit will be Senator Obama's third to the Show-Me State in two weeks.
Check back with the Missourian throughout the evening for more updates about the event.
Missourian reporter Regan McTarsney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.