Besides still being in the running as a possible host for the 2016 Democratic Convention, Birmingham, Alabama is also looking to bring a 2016 Presidential Debate to the city.


Report from

As the city continues to press to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Bell told that he’s also working to make Birmingham a site for a presidential debate.

Bell said his latest venture into the economics of political events isn’t a substitute for his 2016 DNC location bid, but is an addition to it.

“It would be huge for the city,” he said. “It would bring thousands of people to Birmingham.”

Bell was in Washington, D.C. earlier this week when he met with political leaders in what he called an early “exploratory” conversation about the process.

Presenting a presidential debate requires similar logistics and financial commitments as bringing a convention to town.

Universities have been the standard location for most debates, which must also meet specific space, logistics and financial requirements.

It’s not cheap. Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida spent about $4.5 million to present the final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Bell’s selling points for a presidential debate in Birmingham mirror his arguments for a convention. Amenities and facilities include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama Theater, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Along with the debates, host cities and institutions typically present forums, seminars and related programs. The candidates themselves also use their debate stops as opportunities to campaign in those regions.

Bell noted the influx of staff, press and tourists who would be drawn to the city to witness a debate among presidential hopefuls as a primary reason for seeking the event.

Officials at Lynn University have touted the return on their investment. According to a study commissioned by the university, the debate created a $13.1 million economic impact for the Palm Beach County economy.

While the debate guidelines from the Commission on Presidential Debates won’t be available until March, 2015, potential hosts will have to raise several million dollars and provide enough hotel, convention and media space for an influx of thousands of visitors.

Such spending by Birmingham would be in addition to money already spent in the city’s campaign for the DNC.

As noted, Birmingham would be shelling out a lot of funds in addition to the convention funds if they could land both events. I’m betting they will end up being more successful with the possibility of a presidential debate since it looks like the Democratic National Committee is leaning possibly toward New York City as a convention site.