Information on 2020 Bid for Presidential Debate in Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2019
Media Contacts:
Nena Slighting | nenas@utahdebatecommission.org | 801-919-6004
Shawn Wood | shawn.wood@utah.edu | 801-585-9244

Together, the Utah Debate Commission and the University of Utah are applying to host
a presidential debate in 2020. It is anticipated the Commission on Presidential Debates
will announce its host decisions in fall 2019.

“Utah leaders, the University of Utah, and the UTDC board have shown tremendous
support and solidarity to get to this point in the bidding process,” said Thomas Wright,
co-chair of the UTDC. “If selected, Utah would have an incredible opportunity to
showcase to the world its citizens’ values of volunteerism, hospitality, civil political
discourse and community and civic engagement.”

Every four years, the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors and
produces the general election debates, which include three presidential debates and
one vice presidential debate that are broadcast internationally. If selected, Utah could
host one of these events with a future U.S. leader.

“The U is well positioned to provide the necessary resources to host a large-scale event
like a presidential debate,” said Jason Perry, vice president of Government Relations at
the U. “If we were to be selected, it would offer Utah students a once-in-a-lifetime
learning opportunity.”

About the Utah Debate Commission:
The UTDC was established in 2013 to educate voters and promote a civil exchange of
ideas among the leading candidates in Utah. The UTDC Board of Directors includes
higher education and media representatives, as well as civic and community leaders.
Co-chairs include Thomas Wright, vice-chair of the Western Region of the Republican
National Committee and former chairman of the Utah Republican Party, and Karen
Hale, former state senator and former vice-chair of the Utah Democratic Party.

About the University of Utah:
The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City in the foothills of the Wasatch
Mountains, is the flagship research institution of higher learning in Utah. Founded in
1850, it serves over 31,000 students from across the U.S. and the world. With over 72
major subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the

graduate level, including law and medicine, the university prepares students to live and
compete in the global workplace. Known for its proximity to seven world-class ski
resorts within 40 minutes of campus, the U encourages an active, holistic lifestyle,
innovation and collaborative thinking to engage students, faculty and business leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Utah?
Utah has a proven track record of successfully hosting events on a large scale. Utah
hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, widely considered to be the most successful in
Olympic history. Utah has an excellent reputation for hospitality and a strong
infrastructure for travel and tourism. Salt Lake City has a light rail transit system that
connects the University of Utah, downtown and the Salt Lake International Airport, a
major hub for international travel.

Salt Lake City is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing—economically and
culturally—metropolises in the U.S. Additionally, Utah’s “silicon slopes,” a robust
technology sector, is a result of the state’s commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship,
education and workforce development. Utah is at the forefront of political innovation,
debating the major issues of our time in American political life. Recently, Utah passed
landmark legislation on immigration reform, public lands, LGBTQ and religious rights
among other topics, serving as a model for other states.

Why the University of Utah?
The U strives to be a model public university in delivering unmatched value in higher
education and health care, while making social, economic and cultural contributions that
improve the quality of life throughout the state, nation and the world. It has vast
experience assisting with organization, fundraising, management, security and
execution of major events, including the 2002 Winter Olympics. Both the opening and
closing ceremonies were hosted on campus, as well as the housing accommodations
necessary for the entire Olympic Village. This was during a time of heightened security
needs following the 9/11 attacks just months before.

If selected, how would students be involved?
If selected, the Utah Debate Commission will work with the U and other Utah colleges
and universities to program educational opportunities, such as internships, debate
watching events, themed classes and discussions. Select interns may have the
opportunity to work the event in various positions and even attend the debate.
What is the proposed location?

The U’s Jon M. Huntsman Arena located on South Campus Drive, adjacent to the UTA
TRAX line, is the proposed location for the debate. The arena is a 15,000 seat,
multipurpose venue on campus. The facility was recently renovated, providing state-of-
the-art audio and visual systems and making it a natural fit for a 2020 presidential
debate.

If selected, how much would hosting a debate cost?
If selected, hosting a debate could cost millions of dollars, but it’s estimated Utah will
see a positive return on investment from tourism and commerce associated with the
event. Costs would cover professional staff and logistics, building communications
infrastructure, increased campus transportation capacity, food services and increased
security personnel.

If selected, how would it be funded?
This will be a public-private endeavor. During the 2019 session, the Utah Legislature
approved $2.5 million to cover the partial costs of hosting a debate. Additional funding
may be requested in 2020 should the state be selected. The Utah Debate Commission
and the University of Utah will raise additional funds from private donors. Student tuition
and fees will not be used.

How likely is it that Utah will host a debate?
At this point, it is unknown how many other universities are submitting bids. The Utah
Debate Commission and the U, working in tandem, make a great partnership and
believe Utah would be a perfect place to host a 2020 presidential debate.