The University of Michigan (UM) will pay at least $2.5 million to host a 2020 presidential debate next year, the Detroit News reports.
This is just a baseline estimate for how much the debate will cost as UM could end up paying even more. To help figure out the costs, the school’s steering committee has communicated with other colleges who have hosted a debate to get a final estimate, according to Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the school.
“We’re working very carefully to understand the magnitude of those costs so we can fundraise and budget appropriately,” Fitzgerald told the Detroit News. The university intends to use only donor funds to finance the event.
In October, UM, along with Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, were chosen to host the three scheduled presidential debates next year.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the university community to contribute to our democracy, while setting an example of civic engagement and shining a light on the outstanding academic strengths of our institution,” UM’s President Mark Schlissel said. “Public service and civic engagement are at the core of our great university and its history.”
The school’s October 15, 2020 debate will take place in the Crisler Center, which sits almost 14,000 people. The last time the Great Lakes state hosted a presidential debate happened in 1992 between Democratic candidate Bill Clinton, then-President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot.
Many times colleges will spend millions of dollars on political debates hoping to increase its profile nationally. For example, Longwood University, a college with less than 5,000 students in Farmville, Virginia, paid around $5.5 million to host a 2016 vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.
Previously, Centre College, a small private school in Danville, Kentucky, hosted the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates and saw big payoffs for the school.
“The exposure keeps paying off, in donations to the college and rising applications, Michael Strysick, the school’s communication director, told Marketplace. “This last year (2015) we saw our largest incoming class, the academic profile of incoming students has increased.”
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