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Arena doors shut ... temporarily

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Several hundred delegates and media members were shut out of Time Warner Cable Arena for a time Wednesday night after the building reached capacity, according to local authorities.

Officials say the arena doors were shut, per orders of the Mecklenburg County fire marshal. It happened sometime around 8:15 p.m. But shortly before 9 p.m., authorities reopened the doors and let the crowd in.

Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal Rob Kinniburgh said the arena had reached capacity.

“We were at 25,000,” Kinniburgh said. “We had a lot of people standing in the hallway, away from their seats. We slowed the egress until they ... went back to their seats.”

Officials said hundreds of delegates and reporters were in the crowd outside the arena doors. While the doors were closed, witnesses reported some of those standing outside the arena shouted, “Let us in! Let us in!”

Theo LeCompte, chief operating officer of the convention, said, “It happens every time. We’ve got to work with them (fire officials) to keep it safe.”

According to several reports, the doors were closed at least two other times later in the evening but were reopened a short time later.

Observer staff writers Steve Lyttle and Tim Funk contributed.

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