DANVILLE, KY — Centre College got its second national nod on Monday when it was selected to host the only vice-presidential debate in 2012.
Centre's experience in hosting the 2000 vice-presidential debate at the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville helped win the event planned for Oct. 11, 2012, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
"First, Centre did an outstanding job of hosting the 2000 vice-presidential debate," said Janet Brown, the commission's executive director. "Second, Centre's principal players from that debate are still at the college, and we value that experience. Finally, Centre's facilities, as good as they were in 2000, are vastly improved now."
The college has spent $100 million on facility upgrades since 2000, said Centre spokesman Michael Strysick. That includes an expansion to the physical education center, which will serve as media headquarters during the debate, and a new 40,000-square-foot student center, which will serve as a commissary for journalists and the campaigns. In addition, the school spent about $3 million on improvements at the Norton Center.
"When we hosted the 2000 vice-presidential debate, Centre and Danville were by far the smallest college and town to host a general election debate, but by all accounts we set a new standard," said Centre President John A. Roush in a statement. "We are proud of the confidence that the commission has again expressed in Centre and Danville."
The 2000 vice presidential debate between Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat (now independent) Joe Lieberman had a huge effect on Centre, officials said.
Centre's enrollment, for example, has increased from 1,000 to more than 1,200, and in the year after the debate, out-of-state applications increased 25 percent from the previous year, and total applications went up 12 percent. Centre also saw an increase in alumni giving.
Among the amenities that the commission requires is a debate hall that has at least 17,000 square feet and is air-conditioned; a parking area close to the debate hall that has space for as many as 30 television remote trucks and satellite trucks; and at least 3,000 hotel rooms available within 30 minutes by car.
The debate doesn't come for free. Clarence Wyatt, special assistant to Roush, said the school must pay $1.65 million to the debate commission, and Strysick said Centre will have to find another $1 million for costs beyond that, all of it privately raised.
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