Prior to the appearance of Donald Trump last night in Little Rock after a nearly two-hour delay, Barton Coliseum general manager Ralph Shoptaw came before the crowd to say that attendance for the Trump event, at 11,500, had broken a record at Barton set all the way back in 1974 during a show by the blues-rock band ZZ Top. Trump would later brag on the turnout from the stage, bumping the number up to 12,000 while saying he’d been setting similar records all over the country.
You know I gotsta get paid, so the reporter doublebacked during Trump’s speech and shot the photo seen below from the floor, revealing what anybody who was there could easily see: the floor a solid one-third full, with sparse attendance in either end of the coliseum. My head may be in Mississippi, but my eyeballs work just fine.
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Barton Coliseum has 6,750 fixed seats, and can accommodate another 3,000 in portable seats on the floor. Plenty of people on the floor last night, and standing room would have allowed for them to be more tightly packed than chairs. But even at that, it’s hard to see how they got to 11,500 people in attendance. A lower number of Trumpeters also seems borne out by video from at least one camera on the press riser (at the far right in the photo below) that panned around a bit during Trump’s speech.