Presidential debate preparations ramp up at Washington U. -


Presidential debate preparations ramp up at Washington U.

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(Credit: Washington University / Twitter) (Credit: Washington University / Twitter)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -

In less than one week, St. Louis will become the political center of the country for one night when presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debate at Washington University.

It has taken months of planning and millions of dollars to get ready to host 3,000 members of the media and two major political parties. But, there is still work plenty of work to do to get the campus ready. Crews have been setting up platforms outside the athletic complex for broadcast networks to use, bringing in three cell towers on wheels, hanging posters and banners around campus, and installing security fencing around the perimeter.

The candidates will debate in the gym, but by the time work gets done, the space will hardly be recognizable as a basketball court. Crews have already covered the floor with plywood and are rolling out carpet. According to organizers, they will run 50,000 feet of cable to make sure the whole country can see what happens in the debate hall.

Read: Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz to moderate debate at Washington U.

Next door is the media filing center where 210 tables are already set up with 700 wired network connections so journalists can get their stories out to the public.

"The media filing center and spin ally are all set up and pretty much ready to go," said Steve Givens, chairman of Washington University's debate steering committee. "Then we are covering the gym floor and beginning construction of where the debate venue itself will take place so we are in full motion everywhere you look."

Even though there is a lot of work happening on campus, the university’s debate steering committee is working to minimize disruption to surrounding neighborhoods.

"We've been in touch with our neighbors all along. They know this is happening obviously. I don't think they're going to notice any real differences until the day before the debate. So Saturday and Sunday are going to be a little tough for anyone to get around the periphery of our campus," said Givens.

There will be a designated area for those who wish to demonstrate or protest. University officials say the area will be across from Forsyth Boulevard at the baseball and softball complex.

During all of the work, the secret service has been in and out checking on the security plan. At some point this week, agents will show up again and set up shop to be here through the debate. Already, though, security is tight around the athletic complex. Officers are manning checkpoints where workers, students, and guests have to show ID's or be on a list to get inside.

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