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Howard Stutz

Fahrenkopf urges bid to make UNR debate site

15 November 2006

RENO, Nevada -- American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who also serves as co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said Tuesday that he hopes to bring one of the 2008 presidential debates to the University of Nevada, Reno.

Fahrenkopf, whose Washington, D.C.-based gaming industry advocacy group is hosting the current Global Gaming Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan commission that has sponsored and produced the presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988, will soon be taking requests for bids from universities across the country for 2008.

Fahrenkopf, a Reno native and a 1962 graduate of UNR, said he would like to see the school win one of the prized nationally televised debates between the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

In preparation, Fahrenkopf said a technical team from the debate commission will visit the campus in the coming weeks to see if the school has the necessary facilities and capabilities to house one of the debates.

"Obviously, I think this would be good for Nevada, Reno and UNR," Fahrenkopf said. "Since it's my alma mater, I'd love to have the process continue and actually go forward."

Fahrenkopf said he worked with new UNR President Milton Glick, who was provost at Arizona State University when the school hosted one of the debates between Republican President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

He said Glick's understanding could help UNR if the school goes forward in the bidding.

"His background could help," Fahrenkopf said.

Glick said Tuesday he hoped the debate commission staff will deem UNR's facilities suitable for hosting that type of event. He thought the university's Lawlor Events Center or the Reno Events Center, located about three blocks from campus, would be suitable sites.

"It's worth making a run at it, and it's something we'd like to do," Glick said. "I'm glad the debate commission is having staff examine the facilities before we have people take the trouble to submit to the bidding process. I appreciate them making sure we can get over that threshold so we can participate."

If it's determined that UNR has the capacity to host a debate, it will be up to the school to determine if it is financially feasible to host the event.

"I have some experience from observing at Arizona State, so I think that would help us," Glick said. "One thing I learned is that it's critical not to low ball the bid."

He said the budget for the debate at Arizona State was about $2.5 million.

Glick said he became acquainted with Fahrenkopf, who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee for six years during President Reagan's administration, during the Arizona State debate process. He hopes that relationship and Fahrenkopf's history with Reno might help the school.

"I think this would be a great opportunity for the university and Reno," Glick said.

Nevada already is playing a role in the 2008 presidential election. The state is the site of an early Democratic presidential caucus which will be held in January.

Fahrenkopf urges bid to make UNR debate site is republished from