University of Michigan wants to host 2020 presidential debate
The University of Michigan is among six venues offering to host — and pay for — a presidential debate during the 2020 general election.
UM President Mark Schlissel made his case in a Monday letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, saying the school is uniquely qualified because it is “steeped in a tradition of public service” and routinely hosts large crowds on football game days.
Not only is UM the alma mater of President Gerald R. Ford, Schlissel wrote, it was also the site where then presidential-hopeful John F. Kennedy delivered an impromptu speech in 1960 outlining his vision of what would become the Peace Corps.
The debate commission first put out a call for applications in January, seeking venues with a debate hall of at least 15,000 square feet that is air conditioned, is close to large parking areas for remote television trucks and has nearby hotels capable of providing at least 3,000 rooms, among other things.
There is a $2.5 million fee for hosting a presidential debate, according to the University of Michigan, which noted there would also be additional expenses for facility use and other unique needs.
“I am aware of the logistical challenges and significant financial implications for the host institution,” Schlissel wrote in his letter to the commission. “As an institution that routinely hosts 110,000 visitors on our campus many weekends every fall, we are fully cognizant of the challenges such an undertaking entails.”
Applications were due Tuesday, and other venues seeking to host a 2020 debate include Belmont University in Tennessee, the City of Hartford in Connecticut, Creighton University in Nebraska, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and the University of Utah.
The potential host sites are expected to submit more detailed plans later this month, and the commission is expected to make a final decision on debate hosts in late summer, the UM said.
Michigan is already poised to host at least one presidential primary debate this cycle. The Democratic National Committee this week announced plans for a two-night debate July 30 and 31 in Detroit.
Republican President Donald Trump is seeking re-election and last week held a massive campaign rally in Grand Rapids.