by Art Thomason – Nov. 1, 2011
Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
[Editor’s Note: The Presidential debate next to the light rail extension in Mesa at the Arts Center shows the powerful will show up. Light Rail Advisors supports free and open political debate]
Mesa will host the Republican presidential debate on Nov. 30.
Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey made the announcement Tuesday that Mesa Arts Center will be the location.
The $98 million performing arts venue was a major reason that CNN, which is hosting the debate, selected Mesa, said Mesa City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh.
“When CNN toured the MAC recently they were simply blown away by all of its facilities which are well suited for handling all of their trucks and equipment,” he said.
“I think it’s huge for the city to actually acquire an event like this. It’s a major news event that will have CNN headquartered here for a couple days for the debate. It’s an opportunity to showcase the city for a major national event like this.”
The nationally televised debate is being sponsored by the Arizona Republican Party and will be conducted and aired live on CNN at 6 p.m. local time on Nov. 30.
The arts center, which opened in 2005, is a world-class facility well-suited to host this world-class event, Morrissey said in a prepared statement.
The complex is situated on a seven-acre campus and incomes more than 212,000 square feet of theaters, studios and exhibition space.
“Mesa Arts Center is an ideal venue for the debate,” said Morrissey said in a release. “This state-of-the-art facility will be front and center as Arizona welcomes the candidates for this important event.”
Gov. Jan Brewer called the event a critical opportunity to spotlight southwestern issues and have the candidates hear directly from Arizona voters.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Brewer said in the GOP release. “Arizona will play a key role in the coming election, and I’m looking forward to our voters getting an up-close look at our nation’s candidates for president.”
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the national exposure of the debate will pay dividends for both the State of Arizona and City of Mesa.
“Mesa is honored to host this important event at our beautiful arts center,” Mayor Smith said. “We are confident that we can demonstrate all Arizona has to offer to both the attendees and millions of viewers.”
The Mesa Arts Center is in the heart of downtown Mesa. Arizona’s largest arts center is home to four theaters, five art galleries and 14 art studios. Guests, patrons and students come to Mesa Arts Center to enjoy the finest live entertainment and performances, world-class visual art exhibitions and outstanding arts education classes. The facility is an architectural showpiece and a destination for visitors to the Phoenix area. For a map of the facility go to www.mesaartscenter.com.
Scott Butler, governmental relations director for the City of Mesa said previously that part of Mesa’s case for bidding on the debate is that the East Valley city is a conservative and Republican bastion. “We think it’s a great opportunity,” Butler said.
Other locations that were considered were the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix and Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium, which was the site of the 2008 presidential debate.