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Wright State Kicks Off Debate 2016 Celebration

Donna Schlagheck, with Wright State’s political science department, addresses students faculty and guests at Wright State's Student Union.
Jerry Kenney
Donna Schlagheck, with Wright State’s political science department, addresses students, faculty, and guests at Wright State's Student Union.";

Officials at Wright State University kicked off “Debate 2016” celebrations on Super Tuesday with some big fanfare—in September the university will host the first presidential debate between the democratic and republican nominees.

A balloon drop and confetti canons rounded out the event after several speakers gave updates on plans for the big debate.

Donna Schlagheck, with Wright State’s political science department says Wright State’s Board of Trustees has approved an estimated $8 million in upfront costs for planning and security measures.

“I think compared to the benefits, in visibility, attention to our region, earned media coverage, and the things you can’t really measure…. are going to outweigh that investment many, many, many, times over.”

What Schlagheck calls earned media coverage is the estimated dollar-value of all the news coverage that will be generated over the three or four days when national and international media outlets come to the Dayton area.

University officials estimate that value at $100 million.

There could be some merit to Wright State's value-estimate of media coverage. After the last presidential debate in 2012 between President Obama and Mitt Romney, which was the least watched debate of the three they took part in, Lynn University reported $13.1 million in economic impact for Palm Beach County, Florida and more than $63 million in publicity value for the university and local community.

It's unclear what methods Lynn used to come up with those numbers, but Wright State is hoping their estimates pan out.

Though, not all of the benefits of hosting the debate come down to money. Schlagheck says it all comes back to the students.

"As a political scientist, my key hope is that suspicion, the apathy that people seem to have about the political process could be transformed."