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‘The town is talking about this event’: Barack Obama comes to Winnipeg

In this Dec. 12, 2018 file photo, former President Barack Obama accepts the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award at a ceremony in New York. Obama appears on a reworked song by Lin-Manuel Miranda originally from the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” Released Friday, “One Last Time (44 Remix)” features Obama reciting a passage from George Washington’s farewell address. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File).
In this Dec. 12, 2018 file photo, former President Barack Obama accepts the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award at a ceremony in New York. Obama appears on a reworked song by Lin-Manuel Miranda originally from the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” Released Friday, “One Last Time (44 Remix)” features Obama reciting a passage from George Washington’s farewell address. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File). AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File

If you’re heading to Bell MTS Place on Monday to visit with the former president, be prepared to hurry up and wait.

“The event starts at 6 o’clock, the doors open at 5, so we have to get the building fully loaded in an hour,” said Kevin Donnelly with True North Sports and Entertainment.

“So we are encouraging people, leave your briefcase, leave your lunch bag if you’re coming from work, leave those other things in the car or at the office if you can, so be prepared for thorough security checks.

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“Please don’t bring any bags if you can avoid doing so, because that will slow down the process. It’ll speed up your process if you don’t have a bag, and you know we just want everyone seated in their seat ready for 6 p.m. because it will start promptly at 6.”

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Former president Barack Obama is visiting the River City as part of a speaking tour, and Donnelly said the excitement and anticipation he’s hearing from people is different than from other events.

“I think the anticipation to see him goes beyond just the people who are coming, the town is talking about this event.”

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It’s unknown what Obama will cover during the event, said Donnelly, adding he’s curious to see what the President chats to Canadians about.

“How much he touches what happens south of us, how much is his view of the world in general or what his efforts are going forward.  I’m very, very curious myself.”

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Two former presidents have visited Winnipeg in the past, including Jimmy Carter in relation to his charity work, and Bill Clinton made a quick stop in the city in 2003.

But Barack Obama is different, said Donnelly.

“Who Barack was and the fact that he got through his presidency unscathed, there wasn’t a scandal that followed him, there wasn’t anything that tarnished his efforts while he was in office, so comparative to Clinton, or the Jimmy Carter visits, that sort of thing, there’s been nothing quite like this.

“We have sold 12,000 tickets in the arena, so it will be a massive event tomorrow night.”

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READ MORE: Barack Obama to speak in Winnipeg at Bell MTS Place

The show will likely include a Q&A from the audience and a bit of back-and-forth as well, said Donnelly.

Tickets, if there are any left on Monday, will be sold at Ticketmaster.

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