UCA Promotes Conway Campus for Presidential Debate

CONWAY, AR - The University of Central Arkansas today made a strong push to play host to one of the four debates in the 2008 presidential election.

Organizers with the Commission on Presidential Debates met with UCA President Lu Hardin, Conway officials, and Secret Service representatives to discuss brining one of the three presidential debates or the sole vice presidential debate to the UCA campus.

Hardin said the school is prepared to delay construction of a $16 million School of Business building to allow for more than 300 extra parking spaces for the event.  Debate Executive Producer Marty Slutsky said the extra spaces would be needed to set up satellite trucks and for an estimated 3,000 journalists who would cover the debates.

Hardin says the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall, which seats 1,200, would be more than suitable for the debate.  He said the hall's proximity to AETN would also allow for satellite feeds for major television networks around the country and the world to pick up the debate, which is estimated to cost the university about $1.35 million, which Hardin says would be covered by private donations.

Nineteen other universities are in the running.  A decision is expected by October.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)