The Nutter Center can hold more than 10,000 for basketball games or concerts, but the crowd at the presidential debate will be much smaller.
“Other universities that have hosted (debates), these arenas have been drastically reduced, maybe 10 percent of capacity,” said WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess. “It’s a made-for-TV thing with gigantic security overtones.”
Many hotel rooms in the area are already booked for the event, which Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce president Ann Upthegrove-Vore says will pump $10 million into the local economy.
“We anticipate over 3,000 hotel rooms will be sold out,” she said.
Bauguess said Hopkins insisted that WSU students be “front and center” during the debate.
Sweeney said that the Secret Service has been to Wright State a few times since September, when the school landed one of the debates. He said it’s a plus that WSU has hosted several big-name politicians in recent years, including presidents and vice presidents.
“We’ve done a wonderful job of hosting rallies and I know that the Secret Service has vetted our facility and it meets their needs,” Sweeney said.
He added that the debate — which will be the first of three — will provide opportunities for WSU students looking for on-the-job training, some of it helping the 3,000-plus media memberswho are expected to cover the event.
“This event is logistics and supply chain management at its best, and we have a logistics and supply chain program,” Sweeney said. “There’s so many ways we can tie what’s happening with the debate into the curriculum and careers.”
One of the reasons the Commission on Presidential Debates became sold on WSU was the fact that it’s a public university, Sweeney said.
“(Hopkins) pointed out that of the millions of students in higher education, well over 80 percent are in public universities,” Sweeney said.
The other two venues for next fall’s debates will be Washington University in St. Louis, a private university, on Oct. 9, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, which is public, on Oct. 19.
WSU was one of 16 sites that applied to be a debate site.
The Commission on Presidential Debates will announce the debate format and additional details in the coming months.
“”We appreciate the many applications we received and are delighted with the sites we have selected,” CPD co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf and Mike McCurry said in a statement. “We look forward to working with these fine universities and their students and communities to bring these important civic events to the nation.”