According to the Associated Press, more than 1.2 million people have now registered to get tickets for Michael Jackson‘s memorial service next week.
Only 11,000 tickets will be given out for the Tuesday service at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Another 6,500 tickets will be given away for the Nokia Theater overflow section next door.
The only way to get tickets is to register for free at staplescenter.com. After 6 p.m. Saturday, 8,750 names will be randomly selected to receive two tickets each.
Notifications will go out on Sunday.
City officials are preparing for massive crowds. Assistant Police Chief Earl Paysinger says anywhere from a quarter-million to 700,000 people may try to reach the arena, even though a wide area around Staples Center will be sealed off to those without tickets.
City Councilwoman Jan Perry strongly urged people to stay home and watch the memorial on TV. The ceremony will not be shown on Staples‘ giant outdoor TV screen and there will be no funeral procession through the city.
No details were given about the actual memorial events, which come as the nation’s second-largest city struggles with a $530 million budget deficit. Perry said the cost of police protection for “extraordinary” events like the memorial is built into the Police Department’s budget, but she still solicited help for “incremental costs.”
Last month, donations covered about $850,000 of the city’s $1 million cost for the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA championship parade. Critics had blasted the idea of using city money when it is considering layoffs to close its budget gap.