DU believes presidential debate is worth $30 million in publicity

University paid $1.6 million to host debate

DENVER - The publicity surrounding Wednesday’s presidential debate is worth up to $30 million, a University of Denver spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the university paid $1.6 million to the Commission on Presidential Debates to host the event, as other hosts have done.

The nonprofit commission was established in 1987.

Commission spokesman Peter Eyre said Wednesday’s debate will debut a new format. It will still be 90 minutes long, but will now be broken up into six segments.

"There will be fewer questions, but more extended discussion that dives into certain issues in detail," Eyre said.

The debate will take place inside the Magness Arena, which usually hosts sporting events.

Work to refit the space for the special occasion began last week. The debate stage was installed Monday and the lights were still being adjusted Tuesday. Additional seats were also added Tuesday, but the live audience is being kept much smaller than the arena’s normal capacity.

"The stage is built, the set is ready and we’ll use today to fine tune the lighting, the sound, check our backup systems and make sure everything is ready for tomorrow night," Eyre said.

[View a slideshow of the debate preparations]

The exact number of seats in the audience remains unclear.

The stage is the same stage that presidential debates have used since 1988, Eyre said.

"The set is designed by the commission," he said. "The campaigns and the candidates have really no input into how the set looks and feels, the format and things like that. Those are all decisions made by the commission."

The preparations also include room for about 1,600 members of the media in a room neighboring the debate hall and dozens of media vehicles outside. The University of Denver provided the following breakdown of credentialed reporters:

  • National Print Media: 114
  • Foreign Print: 208
  • National TV: 110
  • Foreign TV: 341 (From 50 different organizations)
  • Local Radio: 39
  • National Radio: 60
  • Still photographers: 86
  • Online journalists: 85
  • Local Media (Print, TV & Radio): 423
  • News Agency Journalists: 166

All the work is temporary. The entire set is due in Danville, Kentucky for the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 11.

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