Steve Griffin, KSL

University of Utah seeks $1.5 million more for security, other costs of vice presidential debate

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Feb. 12, 2020 at 4:22 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Hosting the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah will be a “unique and amazing” opportunity for the entire state, but it comes at a price, lawmakers learned Wednesday.

Officials representing the U. and the Utah Debate Commission asked members of the Utah Legislature’s Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee for $1.5 million to help cover security and other costs of hosting the event on Oct. 7 in Kingsbury Hall.

“These are things that are just expensive. An unscalable fence has to go around the perimeter, the tenting, the security issues associated with it. They’re just costs,” said Jason Perry, the university’s vice president of government relations and chairman of the debate steering committee.

A legislative appropriation would supplement private fundraising the University of Utah and the Utah Debate Commission are conducting for the event, Perry said.

The benefits of conducting the vice presidential debate in Utah are considerable, such as the national exposure with an expected 35 million viewers on television and online, the economic boost of lodging and dining for some 1,500 journalists as well as campaign staffers and others, as well as the educational opportunities for students, said Perry, director of the U.’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

“This is really a chance for us to really showcase the state. And it’s not just University of Utah, by the way. This will be a chance for students at every single one of our universities to participate in something you do not get to see in your life like this. And so we’re just really fortunate to have it,” Perry said.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, who requested the funding, said he looks forward to the opportunity.

Marjorie Cortez

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