Though USF will provide the stage for the Republican National Debate, moststudents and faculty won’t have a firsthand look at the potential presidents.
Because of limited space, the debate, which will be held at 9 p.m. Jan. 23 inTheatreI, will not be open to the public, University spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez said.
“Between the sponsorsand the candidates, there are no public tickets available (as of now),” she said.
According to USF News,some parking areas will betemporarily closed toaccommodate NBC’s debatesetup.
Lots3Aand3Bwill closebeginning today.Lot5Aresident parking will close Saturday, Jan. 21 and Lots3Cand9Cwill close Monday, Jan. 23. The Marshall Student Center’s (MSC) Cedar Circle will also be closed Jan. 23, and the Bull Runner will not stop at theMSCthat day. Alternate parking will beavailable in the Crescent Hill and Laurel garages as well asalternate lots for R, D and Epermits.
The D route will turn around at a temporary stop in Lot 3D on Holly Drive, and the F route will turn around at Lot 3D.Normal parking and Bull Runner services will resumeJan. 24.
Tickets will be distributedby sponsors such as the Tampa Bay Times, NBC and the National Review, though some public tickets may become available to USF after NBCfinishes setting up the theater this week.
Wade-Martinez said the University’s first priority wouldbe to provide students with any available tickets.
“We’re still thrilled theyselected USF,” she said. “It will put us in the national spotlight to millions of viewers.”
The debate was originally slated to be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Jan. 30, but when the Florida primary was moved up to Jan. 31, the candidates requested to push up the date of the debate and the venue was no longeravailable. Wade-Martinez said the debate sponsors selected USF as the new host.
For those unable to attend the debate, Student Government (SG) will host a watch party in the Martin Luther KingJr. Plazaoutside the theater, where a live stream of the debate will show in a tented area with 800 seats. The tent will open at 7:30 p.m. and free food will be provided.
Lindsay Lewis,SGdirectorof Governmental Affairs and watch party organizer, saidSGhas not given up onobtaining some, thoughlikely few, tickets for students.
“We have pushed and westill are pushing for studenttickets,” Lewis, a seniormajoring in political science,said. “NBC is working out the details for the theater, and until all the staging and setup is completed, we won’t know how many seats will beavailable.”
Lewis said she hopes the watch party engagesstudents in the politicalprocess prior to electionseason and the Republican National Convention, which willbe held in Tampa in August.
“I hope to kind of just bring awareness to what’s going on in politics with the presidential debate quickly approaching,” she said. “It’s just something that’s important and I’d loveto see students get involved and excited about what’sgoing to happen in November.”
Not all students, however, are content with the watch party alternative. College Republicans President Russell Romeo said the lack of student tickets availableis unfair.
“I think it’s kind ofridiculous that it’s at USF and we’re not being able to get tickets for it,” Romeo, asenior majoring in politicalscience, said. “It’s kind ofawkward to have it on campus and tell us, ‘Hey, come sit outside thetheater and watch it.'”
In an email sent fromSGadviser GaryMankato Student Affairs leaders,Mankasaid NBCis looking for studentvolunteers for the dayof the debate to workasNetdeskvolunteers withnews crews, stand-ins “well-versed in politics” todebate on stage to testtechnical equipment, and NBC Specials team volunteersto “run errands.” Interested students should contactMankaatgmanka@usf.edu.