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Ralph Nader Pitches His Tent on Block 162

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Newly spiffy Block 162, formerly one of the worst blocks in Denver, will be strutting its stuff during the convention. On the 16th Street Mall side of the block, the oft-maligned Fontius Building, now officially the Sage Building (named after future tenant Sage Hospitality), is now scaffolding-free, its historic renovation complete before the DNC just as owner Evan Makovsky had hoped. On the other, building-free side of the block, the 2,000-person mega tent recently erected as a temporary measure until Makovsky starts construction there will be hosting its first major events during the DNC -- including a rally hosted by Ralph Nader.

That’s right: Everybody’s favorite third wheel will be in town to promote his White House bid, and he and his crew will be running their circus inside the tent on Monday, August 25.

“It’s my understanding they want to use it for some sort of rally,” says Allen Wollard, executive director of the Wright Group Event Services, a Denver event-management company that owns and operates the tent. “Ralph Nader makes an appearance, makes his speech, gets his constituents excited. I don’t have details on what they will want to do, other than they said they’d be nice and not disrupt anything.”

Maybe that means Nader will refrain from accusing presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama of trying to “talk white,” as he did in a Rocky Mountain News interview last month.

Nader isn’t the only one who’ll be frolicking beneath Block 162’s big top during the DNC. “It’s rented pretty much solid from the Friday before to the Friday after,” Wollard says of the centrally located 160-foot-by-120-foot structure, which has also been rented for a couple nights by an environmental organization and for a few others by the Hyatt corporation. The DNC, it turns out, kicks off a fall full of activities at the mega tent, including a downtown concert, a world film premiere and a U.S. Racquetball Association event. “We are going from a film premierenn one night to a having a full-on racquetball court set up in there the next,” says Wollard.

Which of course begs the question: Is Nader going to try to get in on the racquetball action, too? – Joel Warner

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