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Is Donald Trump coming to Freedom Hall?

Zach Vance • Updated Sep 21, 2018 at 8:11 PM

President Donald Trump’s campaign has inquired with the City of Johnson City about hosting a rally at Freedom Hall Civic Center in the coming weeks, according to Assistant City Manager Charlie Stahl.

As of Friday, a specific date for the rally has not been set and a contract has not been signed, Stahl said.

Three sources close to the Tennessee Republican Party and Trump campaign also confirmed that Trump is looking to host a rally at Freedom Hall to stump for U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign.

Abbi Sigler, a campaign spokesman for Blackburn, has not responded to inquiries from the Johnson City Press seeking comment.  

Many pundits predict Blackburn will need a strong show of support from Northeast Tennessee to defeat former governor and Democratic challenger Phil Bredesen in November.

Stahl said a Trump representative named Ben Weiser from New York called Freedom Hall on Sept. 12 to see if Freedom Hall would be available Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for the rally.

While Oct. 1 was available, ETSU had planned to host its Student Government Association fall concert, featuring Judah & the Lion, on Sept. 30 at Freedom Hall. 

“We told Ben Weiser that we had an ETSU SGA fall concert event on Oct. 1. He called back on Sept. 17 and told (Freedom Hall Director) Lisa (Chamness) that they had been speaking to ETSU, and ETSU was trying to move the concert from Freedom Hall,” Stahl said.

“A day after that, a guy named Mike Hahn from Washington, D.C., called to see if Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 was available for an event, and (Lisa) told him the same thing that Oct. 1 was available but Sept. 30 had an ETSU fall concert with the tickets already on sale.

“Then she asked this guy if he was calling about the same event as (Weiser), and (Hahn) said he was not aware of anyone calling.”

On Wednesday, East Tennessee State University officials announced they were moving the fall concert from Freedom Hall to the Mini Dome.

According to ETSU spokesman Joe Smith, the concert was moved at the request of Freedom Hall.

“We did not receive that request from the campaign to move the event. We worked with Freedom Hall to move the concert so that they could accommodate another event,” Smith said.

A person close to the Trump campaign in Tennessee told the Johnson City Press that details about the rally will likely be announced early next week.

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