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Hartford loses bid to host 2020 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates

HARTFORD — The 2020 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates will sadly not be taking place in Connecticut.

Hartford became a top-six site finalist, competing against other major cities and universities across the country. Hartford was the only municipality in contention to host one of the debates.

“We put forward a strong proposal to bring a presidential debate to the Capital City, and I want to thank the dozens of people who volunteered their time to do a significant amount of planning, preparation, and coordination over many months,” said Mayor Bronin. “In particular, I want to thank the outstanding teams at The Bushnell and the Convention Center, as well as Mary Coursey, who led the Organizing Committee. Our business, educational, government, and civic leaders saw the value of bringing this event to Hartford, both in terms of economic development and to foster civic engagement, and strongly rallied behind our bid.”

The effort to have a debate hosted in Hartford began back in March. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving committed $1 million in August to kick-off fundraising efforts to cover the estimated $6 million cost of the debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced Friday the dates and times for the debates:

First presidential debate:
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Vice presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Second presidential debate:
Thursday, October 15, 2020
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Third presidential debate:
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Sites were required to have the following:

  • A debate hall of at least 15,000 square feet that is air-conditioned.
  • A large parking area close to the debate hall for 40 television remote trucks, trailers and/or satellite trucks up to 53 feet in length.
  • A media filing center, located either in the same facility as the debate hall or immediately adjacent to the debate hall that is a minimum of 20,000 square feet (may be a tent). This space must be air-conditioned.
  • A media parking lot, located approximately one-quarter to one mile away from the media filing center, that can accommodate approximately 500 passenger vehicles.
  • An accreditation center of at least 3,000 square feet, located one-half to one mile away from the debate hall, with parking for up to 75 vehicles.
  • Nearby hotels that can provide 3,000 rooms for the event.
  • Adequate air and ground transportation networks.
  • The host’s guarantee of complete city services, including public safety personnel.
  • Financial contribution.

In 1996, a presidential debate between President Bill Clinton and GOP candidate Sen. Robert Dole was held in the Bushnell.

You can learn more about the CPD and their candidate selection criteria here.

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