It’s time now for KC’s top crowd counter Gary Evert to weigh in on the Kauffman Center‘s haltingly high attendence figure…
That after people no less illustrious than one of the Star‘s most respected (now laid off) entertainment writers and the tech who helped produce the event scoffed at the notion of 55,000 bouncing in and out of the PAC’s rainy Sunday afternoon public opening.
To be fair, anonymous commenters have supported the PAC guesstimate, suggesting anecdotally that a count might have been made. However that flies in the face of the reported fact that the "estimate of 55,000 was based on the assumption that the building could only accommodate 5,000 at a time. If that number ‘turned over’ 10 times, then total attendance would be 50,000."
In other words, by the PAC’s own accounting of things, it was a guesstimate not an actual count.
Worse yet, the guesstimate was provided to the newspaper in "midafternoon" for an event that only started at 11 a.m. and ended around 6 p.m. And later Kauffman honcho Jane Chu upped her guess by another 5,000.
So the PAC was already claiming 50,000 attendees not much more than halfway into the event. Refuting a suggestion the people might have been counted as they entered The Little K.
For 55,000 to have come, the PAC would have had to turn its capacity 16 times in seven hours (nearly twice an hour)
Evert didn’t make it to the event, but applied logic and his well-documented experience at counting the Plaza Lights crowds and bulbs.
"My thought would be that it was probably overstated," he says of the PAC’s magic number.
The odds of it being correct: "Astronomically small," Evert says. "But I mean, it made a nice number."
Rather than merely dismissing Chu’s estimate, Evert points to the stats.
"That’s nearly 8,000 people an hour," he says. "And given that there was entertainment, etc. if the average length of the stay was 20 minutes – and I think that’s low – you would have to turn that over at a rate of 2,600 people every 20 minutes. So they had to turn their entire capacity over every 40 minutes and that would be like 5th Avenue on New Year’s Eve."
The logistics of such a feat…
"Just the sheer number of people would slow down the efficiency with which they could turn the crowd," Evert explains. "The logistics of handling a crowd of that size in such a complex space seems like a statistical impossibility."
As for why the PAC would embrace such an optimistic figure in the first place, "In my experience no crowd has ever been underestimated," Evert quips.