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A look back at the debate over Rogers Place as it sets to open in Edmonton

Written on November 23, 2018 at 15:23, by

In a few days, Rogers Place will open to Edmontonians after years of debate.

In July 2008, Daryl Katz finally spoke to the media in person after becoming the owner of the Edmonton Oilers.  But even before that significant change, there was talk of a new barn for the beloved team.

“I was on the board of the Oilers Community Foundation;  I was on the board of Northlands,” Lyle Best tells Global News, when asked to look back on the long arena debate.

Best, an Edmonton entrepreneur, chaired the arena feasibility committee which endorsed the idea of a new arena in downtown Edmonton.

“The vitriol and the stuff they would toss at me and other committee members, but particularly me, it was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think these people walked among us?,’” Best says.

 “If anything, this is a tremendous deal for taxpayers,” former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel says.

Watch below: ‘It’s a great time for the city’: Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel weighs in on opening of Rogers Place

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    Vitriol was also directed at Mandel.  He became the political face of the project.  Now, as a private citizen, he indicates no regrets about the deal.

    “I’m excited, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the city,” Mandel says, adding one of the goals of the project was “to build cities.”

    But before any building could happen, a deal had to be reached.  The battle lines were drawn quickly.

    READ MORE: Mandel begs province to support the downtown arena

    The Katz Group pushed Northlands to the side, wanting no partnership with the non-profit to run the new facility.

    Negotiations led to a trip to New York City in October 2011, where former mayor Mandel and a city team – along with Daryl Katz and his side – met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

    About a year later, as negotiations dragged on, the Oilers’ owner and an entourage visited Seattle, a city without an NHL franchise, but on the hunt to secure one.

    Many saw the moved as a veiled threat to move the team.  Days after the trip, Katz issued an apology.

    READ MORE: Oilers owner Daryl Katz apologizes to ‘Oilers fans everywhere’

    But the civic soap opera was far from over.  After new demands were presented, city council unanimously voted to cease negotiations in October 2012, leaving Katz Group officials stunned.

    “There were so many times during that period where I’d read a story or hear something and you’d go, ‘This is it,”’ Best says.

    “Forming those public/private partnerships is never easy,” the Edmonton Arena Corporation’s Bob Black says.

    Years later, overlooking Rogers Place as workers put the final touches on the facility, Black explains the debate was a “foreign process” to the company.

    READ MORE: Numbers connected to Edmonton’s Rogers Place construction will blow your mind

    Executives were not prepared for the fact the public process required consultation and public oversight.

    “It took us a long time to really grasp that process,” Black adds.  “We worked hard at trying to really understand that process.  But we had to come to a realization it was going to be slower than we’d wished for.”

    By May 2013, a deal was reached just months before the 2013 civic election.  Construction on the facility started in March 2014.

    Watch below: Sarah Kraus got a tour of the nearly completed Rogers Place in May 2016.

    The deal will see the Edmonton Arena Corporation – a Katz Group company – operate the city-owned facility and pay maintenance expenses.  But the company will also get all the revenues.

    “The critcism of the deal itself is that this is simply the privatization of public profit,” Jay Scherer, a University of Alberta researcher writing a book on the arena deal, laments.

    “Council had a number of key opportunities to certainly push back and to demand a better deal for citizens of Edmonton,” Scherer criticizes.

    “Luck and timing is always important,” Best says.

    For the local politicians who supported the proposal, the deal was about two things:  keeping the Oilers in Edmonton and finding a catalyst project to spark increased development downtown.

    As part of the deal, the Katz Group had to commit to spend $100 million in new development.

    Since arena construction started, the company and its partner – WAM Development Group – have announced the creation of Ice District with two office towers, a hotel, residences and retail.  The investment stands at more than $2 billion within a couple of blocks of Rogers Place.

    “It’s going to be a net gain if for no other reason than just the development around it and having a vibrant, live downtown,” Best says.

Players in Edmonton appear to knock record out of the park at world’s longest baseball game attempt

Written on November 23, 2018 at 15:23, by

Dozens of exhausted but smiling baseball players wrapped up a truly epic ball game that unofficially set a record in Edmonton Monday.

While it still needs to be certified by officials with Guinness World Records, the players appear to have set a record for the world’s longest baseball game while also swinging for the fences in an effort to try and help strike out cancer.

Once the game wrapped up around noon on Monday, the final score was a staggering 378 runs for Team Red and 269 runs for Team Black after 269 innings of ball.

The game started Friday and was organized by Brent Saik who started the world’s longest hockey game in 2003. It was held in memory of his father, Terry, who died of cancer.

IN PHOTOS: World’s Longest Hockey Game at Saiker’s Acres

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    The summer after the first hockey game, Saik’s first wife Susan also succumbed to cancer. Her death prompted the next hockey game in 2005 to be played in her name. The hockey game has since been held in 2008, 2011 and 2015.

    Saik said the epic baseball game saw a range of emotions play out on the field.

    “It’s just a mess of laughing, crying and everything.”

    READ MORE: IN PHOTOS: World’s longest baseball game attempt underway in Edmonton

    Participants hoped to raise $250,000 for cancer research by playing the game, a number organizers said they surpassed.

    “To raise a quarter-of-a-million bucks is unbelievable,” Saik said. “And when you do the math, that number is very close to the hockey game. We did this in 72 hours and hockey was 252.”

    “This thing has saved lives and every one of these players know that and that’s why they come here.”

    For more information on the game or to donate to the cause, visit the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s website.

    If the record is certified, the 72-hour game will set a new benchmark for baseball games after the record was last set in Sauget, Illinois in 2015.

    “We’re talking about world’s longest football game next,” Saik said with a laugh after the game Monday.

    -with files from Caley Ramsay

    Watch below: The record still needs to be certified but over the long weekend, a 72-hour baseball game set an unofficial record for how long it was played and also helped raise money to fight cancer. But despite the serious motivation behind the record attempt, the players made sure to get in a few laughs as well. Kevin Karius explains.

    Watch below: The world’s longest baseball game got underway in Edmonton on Friday, raising funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Global’s Kevin Karius took part and on Sept. 2, 2016, he was at the ballpark with founder Brent Saik. 

    Dozens of ball players in Edmonton pose for a photo at the Edmonton Ball Park after playing a 72-hour game. Sept. 5, 2016.

    Morris Gamblin/ Global News

4 suspects wanted after woman allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint in Vaughan

Written on November 23, 2018 at 15:23, by

Police are searching for four suspects wanted in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a woman at gunpoint in Vaughan.

According to Toronto police, the woman was kidnapped from the Highway 27 and Langstaff Road area around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Police said the woman was driven to Toronto’s Weston Road and Imogene Avenue area, south of Finch Avenue West, where she was able to escape and later report the incident to police.

Investigators have released the identities of two wanted suspects.

Rasha Al-Enzi, 33, of Toronto.

Handout / Toronto Police Service

Trevor Smithen, 32, of Toronto.

Handout / Toronto Police Service

Police are looking for 32-year-old Trevor Smithen and 33-year-old Rasha Al-Enzi, both of Toronto.

Smithen is described as standing 6’1” and weighing 181 pounds. He has his hair in cornrows. He has the word “TRUM” tattooed on his right forearm and the word “TREVOR” tattooed on his left forearm.

Al-Enzi is described as standing standing 5’5” and weighing 100 pounds. She has multiple tattoos on her arms.

Two additional men are also wanted, but they have yet to be identified.

Police believe the suspects are travelling in a grey, four-door 2016 Chevrolet Sonic with the Ontario licence plate BZKN 727.

Officers encouraged anyone who sees the suspects or vehicle to immediately call 911 as police believe the suspects might be armed.

Anyone with information about the investigation is being asked to contact 416-808-3100 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

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Dubai bar aims to break record for world’s longest ‘domino drop shot’

Written on November 25, 2018 at 00:04, by

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The 6,148 whiskey shots perched atop glasses of energy drink waited for the push that might send them tumbling into the record books — just another night in Dubai, and another chance to make a certain kind of history.

Superlatives like “the world’s biggest” and “the world’s first” are almost as ubiquitous as the skyscrapers and mega-projects that have come to define this city-state on the Arabian Peninsula, home to the tallest building and the busiest international airport on Earth.

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With time, this largest-in-life approach has filtered down to more humble and odder pursuits — such as Monday night’s attempt at the world’s longest domino drop shot.

You probably weren’t aware that there was a record to beat in the domino drop shot, or even that there was something called a domino drop shot. Just imagine someone dropping a shot glass into a beer, but before you can guzzle it down, another thousand shots drop into another thousand pints behind it, like dominoes.

The current record holder for the longest drop is the Bahama-based location of the alcohol-soaked chain Señor Frog, which got 4,107 of its 4,109 shot glasses to fall correctly in February 2013.

On Monday, The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill in Bur Dubai sought to break the record. Staffers carefully set up over 6,000 glasses of Camros whiskey and Bazooka energy drink. It was an effort five months in the making, with tests twice a month that took 12 hours to set up.

“When you say Guinness World Record in Dubai, it’s something everyone will talk about,” said Ahmad Taher, the food and beverage manager at Citymax Hotels, which went for the record.

RELATED: Batman cosplayer awarded Guinness World Record for homemade suit 

Such an event would be inconceivable in other Mideast countries like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is illegal and officials are preparing for the annual hajj pilgrimage, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life.

But in Dubai, which has a large expatriate population and relatively lax rules on alcohol, the event is unlikely to draw much attention — unless, of course, they make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Before Monday, the United Arab Emirates held 165 such records, including 129 set in Dubai, according to Guinness.

Among them are the architectural marvels of Dubai, like the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 828 metres (2,716 feet), and the continent-shaped islands of The World, the largest man-made archipelago. The world’s longest driverless metro line passes by the twin towers of the J.W. Marriott Marquis, the world’s tallest hotel at 355 metres (1,165 feet).

RELATED: Toronto university students unofficially break world record for chewing gum bubble blowing

Then there are the stranger feats, like when Indian national Maharoof Decibels won the Operation board game with surgical precision in a world-record 21.87 seconds in 2008. Or when Mohamed Ahmed al-Mulla, an Emirati, typed the fastest blindfolded Arabic text message in 2009. The two-sentences included the phrase: “the razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus.”

Some records are more infamous. The largest tanker ship ever hijacked? The UAE-based Sirius Star, later released by Somali pirates for a $3 million ransom. The highest shortage of women, according to Guinness? The UAE, with its vast workforce of male, low-paid migrant labourers.

One place the UAE isn’t ahead, however, is in the number of overall world records. The United States leads the pack with 6,874. But the UAE and Dubai dominate the Middle East, Guinness spokeswoman Leila Issa said.

“The UAE’s initiative to be the first in all industries and their drive for success and to be the best is what drives them to attempt Guinness World Records titles,” she said.

The Emirati push for world records corresponds with academic research on social comparison. Studies show that the higher ranked a person becomes in a field, “the more thirsty you are to get to that No. 1 position,” said Stephen Garcia, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

“Even with adults, if you say, ‘First one to the tree is the coolest person in the world,’ you’re going to get the adults running to the tree,” Garcia said. “That’s such a childhood game, but people are ready to run with it. Whenever you create a competition, people tend to buy in, even around these trivial dimensions, like this Guinness World Record.”

Garcia’s lack of enthusiasm was nowhere to be seen at the Huddle on Monday, where the vibration of the speakers in the bar caused a premature drop of some of the shot glasses at around 8:45 p.m., to the horror of onlookers.

The same thing happened again at 10:09 p.m., but was stopped by a nimble-fingered bartender. Five minutes later, another fourth of the shots fell into their glasses before time, sending some workers scrambling to reset the glasses as others asked patrons in the noisy bar to be quiet.

At press time, most of the shot glasses, and the world record set by Señor Frog, had yet to fall.

Hurricane Newton: Canadians urged against non-essential travel to Mexico

Written on November 25, 2018 at 00:04, by

Federal officials are urging Canadians against non-essential travel to parts of Mexico as Newton strengthened and became a full-blown off the coast of Mexico.

Right now, the storm is drenching parts of western Mexico and is heading north toward the Baja California peninsula. So far, about 100 people had to evacuate their homes as the storm battered residences along the coast, according to the Associated Press.

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READ MORE: Zika spread could be a concern in the wake of Hurricane Hermine

Roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides, which meant some locals needed to be rescued by helicopter. No deaths were reported.

“Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the coastline between Cabo San Lazaro to Loreto due to due to Tropical Storm Newton,” the federal government wrote in its travel update, issued before the storm was reclassified as a hurricane Monday afternoon.

Newton was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h, and is expected to come ashore in Baja California Sur by Tuesday.

READ MORE: 3.8 magnitude earthquake hits southeast of Yorkton, Sask.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Cabo San Lucas and the nearby coastline.

Newton is expected to cross over the peninsula and re-enter the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, on Wednesday.

The hurricane centre said the storm is likely to continue north into Arizona as a tropical depression later in the week.

The travel advisory also issued warnings for areas such as Acapulco, not for weather but for “high levels of violence and organized crime,” demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks.

Finally, Zika virus is also a concern for travellers to Mexico.

“Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Mexico,” the advisory read. Read the full warning here.

With files from the Associated Press

[email protected]长沙夜网
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PostSecret creator Frank Warren offers his secrets to success

Written on November 25, 2018 at 00:04, by

If you haven’t already shared your own secret – you may have at least heard of PostSecret.

Created in 2004 – as a platform for people to share anonymously about their lives – it’s become an Internet sensation.

The project’s creator Frank Warren will speak to students at Mount Royal University in Calgary on Tuesday. He shared some of the secrets to his success ahead of the event.

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Warren told Global News there is “no better time” for Canadian entrepreneurs to turn their idea into an online venture. The key is hard work.

READ MORE: Social media stars share their secrets to making money on Instagram and YouTube

READ MORE: Women empowered by becoming entrepreneurs

“Over the course of your lifetime, you could have dozens of ideas. Any one of them could be a great success,” said Warren. “Not all of us are willing to put in the effort to finally grow that seed to where it can bear fruit.”

“PostSecret was a simple blog 12 years ago and without any funding whatsoever it reached millions of people.”

PostSecret has undoubtedly been a huge success for Warren. It has earned five Webby Awards for best Internet blog – and Warren a nod from Forbes Magazine.

PostSecret has become an internet sensation since its inception in 2004.

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Warren attributed some of that success to the failed projects that preceded PostSecret.

“I would say what was critical for me was managing failure, not hiding from it,” he said. “When you have failures its important to look at it honestly in order to understand your own shortcomings. “

“Some of the most valuable ideas, the best ideas, are the one’s that nobody understands.”

One last piece of advice from Warren is to get in touch with the people that inspire you.

“Sometimes it’s surprising how easy it is to share your idea and get a response back from someone you admire,” he said.

He said people are often very generous with their time, and happy to help.

PostSecret Live! is scheduled for Tuesday at Mount Royal University’s Triple gym at 10:15 a.m.

Wakeboard competition wraps up summer at Parc Jean-Drapeau

Written on November 25, 2018 at 00:04, by

Montrealers at Jean-Doré beach couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish off the warm summer than with a wakeboard competition.

The Wake sur l’Île teletraction competition drew riders from across the province for a chance at winning a grand prize.

The winner of the professional men’s competition had a prize of $1,000 waiting for him, while the winner of the women’s competition had a jackpot of $500.

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Event organizer Marie-Line Ouellet described the sport as one that can be approached by swimmers as young as seven years old, but it can get very difficult the more obstacles you add on the course.

Jean-Doré beach has a wakeboard track open to the general public during summer months.

“You’re being pulled by a cable, you have a board attached to your feet, a vest, and a helmet and you have fun on the parkour,” Ouellet said. “I find it’s a good activity to offer during the summer, it’s close to everything, you can take the metro, wakeboard, have fun, and you have the beach.”

Wakeboarding in Quebec is a sport that has produced a few professional athletes.

Marc Besner has been wakeboarding for six years and has traveled throughout North America and parts of Europe to compete professionally, he said the sport is all about friendly competition.

“Wakeboard lifestyle is really about traveling, practice, party in the night, but most of the time when you are in the contest you are thinking,” Besner said. “You’re focused on what you’re gonna do and you try to win.”

The competition also had an amateur category where the winner received prizes from Billabong gear.

Winnipeg Goldeyes clinch playoff spot

Written on November 25, 2018 at 00:04, by

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Goldeyes locked up a playoff berth on Monday.

The Goldeyes won part one of their doubleheader with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 6-1 on Monday afternoon. The victory secured the wild card spot.

After missing the post-season dance last year, the Fish will head back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. It’s the 18th time in their 23 year history the Goldeyes have qualified for the post-season.

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Reggie Abercrombie hit his 20th home run of the season in the victory. Goldeyes starting pitcher Kevin McGovern earned the win to improve his record to 8-3. He went the distance in the seven inning contest, pitching a two-hitter while striking out nine RedHawks batters.

Fargo won the second half of the doubleheader 10-5 as the Goldeyes finished the season with a 58-42 record.

The Goldeyes will face the St. Paul Saints in the division series. The Goldeyes had a slim edge in the season series as they won nine of their 17 meetings in 2016. It’s the first post-season meeting between the two clubs since the Saints eliminated the Goldeyes in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

Winnipeg will open the playoffs at home on Wednesday with Game 1 of the best-of-five series at Shaw Park. Game 2 will go the following night before the series shifts to St. Paul for the final three games if necessary on Saturday, Sunday and Monday respectively.

The other semifinal series pits the Wichita Wingnuts against the Sioux City Explorers.

WATCH: Goldeyes Clinch Playoff Spot Raw

American Association Playoff Schedule – Saints vs Goldeyes

Game 1 – Wednesday, September 7th – Shaw Park (7:05 p.m.)
Game 2 – Thursday, September 8th – Shaw Park (7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Saturday, September 10th – CHS Field (7:05 p.m.)
Game 4* – Sunday, September 11th – CHS Field (5:05 p.m.)
Game 5* – Monday, September 12th – CHS Field (7:05 p.m.)
*if necessary

Loaded rifle, meth seized by Prince Albert, Sask. police during busy weekend

Written on November 23, 2018 at 15:23, by

Police in Prince Albert said the Labour Day long weekend was a busy one for officers in the northern Saskatchewan city.

In one case, patrol officers spotted a stolen vehicle parked outside a business in the 2800-block of 6th Avenue East early Monday morning.

A search turned up a loaded .22-calibre rifle, three knives and 0.7 grams of meth.

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    READ MORE: Woman, teen reportedly held against their will escape vehicle: Saskatoon police

    A 15-year-old girl, a 17-year-old boy, a 19-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman were arrested.

    They are facing numerous firearm-related charges along with stolen vehicle, drug and breach of court order charges.

    On Saturday morning, officers tried to pull over a vehicle, however, the driver refused to stop.

    Police said he headed north across the Diefenbaker Bridge before stopping on Highway 2 where he was arrested.

    READ MORE: Close call in Saskatoon involving suspected impaired driver, city work crew

    Among the charges a 22-year-old Sturgeon Lake man is facing are impaired driving, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified.

    All of the accused are scheduled to appear Tuesday morning in Prince Albert provincial court.

    In total, police said they responded to 275 calls for service between Friday evening and Monday morning, , including 45 for disturbances and 37 for intoxicated people.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump crisscross in Cleveland

Written on November 23, 2018 at 15:23, by

CLEVELAND  — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are making competing Labour Day pitches in Ohio, setting the stage for a critical month in their testy presidential campaign.

The Cleveland Airport offered a glimpse of how critical the fight for Ohio has become in the lead-up to the general election, as airplanes for both party nominees and their running mates were parked on the tarmac Monday morning.

Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, prepared to leave Cleveland as Clinton and Tim Kaine arrived. It was a near-encounter that even forced the Trump press corps to the side of the road as Clinton’s motorcade whizzed by.

WATCH: Trump will be ‘leader for all Americans’: Christie

“It’s kind of interesting to have all the planes here on the same tarmac,” Kaine said as he walked over to greet Clinton. “Just shows you how important Ohio is. We’re going to be here a lot.”

The pair of Democrats plans to take part in a Labor Day festival with union leaders and workers in Cleveland. Trump and Pence attended a round-table discussion with union members, where Trump warned that America’s manufacturing jobs are “going to hell.”

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Trump appeared with Democratic Mayor Tom Coyne, of Brook Park, Ohio, who said he supported Trump in this spring’s Republican primary and would vote for him this fall.

“The mayor today is just one example of what’s happening across this country,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. “Voters who traditionally have not voted Republican or haven’t even voted in a very long time seem to be coming out to support this messenger and this message.”

Trump was also expected to campaign at a fair in Youngstown, Ohio, in a nod to the state’s role as a make-or-break proving ground for Republican presidential candidates. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio and Trump is trying to overcome some splintering in the state party, which was supportive of Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the presidential primary.

READ MORE: 5 things Hillary Clinton needs to do before election day

While Labor Day has traditionally been the kickoff to the fall campaign, both Clinton and Trump have been locked in an intense back-and-forth throughout the summer.

Clinton has questioned Trump’s temperament and preparation to serve as commander in chief while seeking to connect the reality television star to the extreme “alt-right” movement within the Republican Party.

WATCH: No smooth sailing for Hillary Clinton, according to recent polls

Trump visited a predominantly black church in Detroit on Saturday in a rare appearance with minority voters, aiming to counter Clinton’s argument to moderate and suburban voters that he has allowed a racist fringe to influence his candidacy.

The start of full-fledged campaigning opens a pivotal month, culminating in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Polls show Trump trailing Clinton in a series of must-win battleground states, meaning the debates could be his best chance at reorienting the race.

READ MORE: Rudy Giuliani: Mexican president did bring up cost of wall in meeting with Donald Trump

Clinton will have millions of dollars at her disposal this fall to air television advertising and power a sophisticated get-out-the vote operation in key states.

The former secretary of state raised a combined $143 million in August for her campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties — her best month yet. She began September with more than $68 million in her campaign’s bank account to use against Trump, who has not yet released initial fundraising totals for August.

WATCH: Trump reacts to FBI’s notes on Clinton’s email server; says Clinton put everyone in danger

Clinton was expected to attend the Labor Day festival in Cleveland alongside running mate Tim Kaine and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Later in the day, she was joining with labor leaders in the Quad Cities community of Hampton, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from Iowa, where she is locked in a tight contest with Trump.

Democrats were fanning out across battleground states, dispatching Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden to Pittsburgh, former President Bill Clinton to Detroit and Cincinnati and one-time Clinton primary rival Bernie Sanders to New Hampshire.

The destinations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire point to Clinton’s battleground map of approximately a dozen states that hold the key to the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.

READ MORE: 5 things Donald Trump needs to do before election day

Clinton was arriving in Ohio and Illinois aboard a new blue-and-white Boeing 737 campaign plane emblazoned with her slogan, “Stronger Together.” She has mostly traveled by private jet during the primaries and the summer but was being accompanied on the plane by journalists for the first time.

Greeting reporters traveling aboard her campaign plane before takeoff, Clinton said, “Welcome to our big plane! It’s so exciting.”

She said she had a good Labor Day weekend, calling it “the last moment before the mad dash.”

Clinton has been pressured by media critics and Republicans alike to hold a news conference for the first time in 2016. She has not held a formal question-and-answer session with reporters since one in Iowa in early December.