By J.D. Morris
Las Vegas will host the general election’s third and final presidential debate on Oct. 19 next year.
The Commission on Presidential Debates this morning announced the cities that will host debates, just after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved spending $4 million to host a debate at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. Las Vegas joins Dayton, Ohio, and St. Louis as host cities for the presidential debates; the vice presidential debate will be held in Farmville, Va.
The expenditure approved by the Las Vegas visitors authority includes a $1.95 million host fee and $2.05 million for the event program and production.
The debate is expected to have a significant impact on the valley. The authority estimates the media exposure generated by a presidential debate will be worth about $50 million, and the Las Vegas area will see a direct economic impact of $6 million.
Las Vegas officials hope the debate will boost the region’s reputation as a serious place for business. Cathy Tull, the authority’s senior vice president of marketing, told the board of directors that Las Vegas was “deemed to be somewhat frivolous” after the economy tumbled during the recession. The authority thinks it can use a debate to market the idea that Las Vegas is about more than partying, gambling and entertainment.
“This is a very strong statement about doing business in Las Vegas,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, the authority’s chief executive. He said it should put to rest any concerns that government entities may have about hosting meetings in Las Vegas.
UNLV President Len Jessup told the board that a debate at Thomas & Mack will also have a positive impact on his campus’ image.
“This would be very significant for us if we can make this happen,” he said.
In addition to highlighting Las Vegas and UNLV, the debate could also aid the efforts of the casino industry’s Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization.
The American Gaming Association launched an initiative earlier this year called “Gaming Votes,” aimed at making sure presidential candidates understand casinos’ positive contributions to the economy.
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