2nd presidential debate moves to Miami after UM cancels

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

The presidential debate that was to take place Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan will instead be held more than 1,000 miles away.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that debate will be conducted in Miami because UM withdrew because of coronavirus concerns.

More:UM backs out of October presidential debate, citing coronavirus

"This debate was originally scheduled for the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor," the commission wrote in its announcement, "and the university has concluded that it is not feasible to host the presidential debate as planned."

Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, tweeted Tuesday morning that "it is with disappointment that I share @UMich will no longer serve as a 2020 Presidential debate host site."

A story in the University Record, a UM newsletter, quoted from Schlissel's letter to the commission.

 “Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned," Schlissel wrote.

Tuesday's announcement comes a day after UM announced its plans to return to campus in the fall, with large classes to be held remotely, small classes in person, and medium-sized classes a blend of the two. 

Whether football and other sports will compete in the fall remains an open question. 

UM revealed in October that it had been selected as one of three debate sites, along with the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on Sept. 29 and Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22.

More:UM required to pay $2.5M, other expenses for presidential debate

The university had agreed to pay at least $2.5 million to hold the event at the Crisler Center, with all money to be raised from donors. The university was required to pay its first $1.25 million in November and the second half by Jan. 4; the university will get the money back because a clause in the contract with the Commission on Presidential Debates allows a refund if a replacement site is found.

Rather than the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, the debate will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

The Oct. 15 debate would've been the second held in Michigan. Incumbent George H.W. Bush squared off against Democrat Bill Clinton and Texas independent Ross Perot at the Wharton Center in East Lansing on Oct. 19, 1992.

Now it will become the second presidential debate held in Miami; the first was the first debate in the 2004 cycle.

Staff Writer Neal Rubin contributed.