Eastern Kentucky University is an applicant to host a 2016 vice-presidential or presidential debate.
EKU was among 16 sites across the country and the only one in Kentucky to apply, according to a release from the Commission on Presidential Debates. That nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., makes the final decision on locations and the criteria for candidate selection.
"We believe we offer some fantastic facilities to host an event like that," said EKU spokesman Scott Cason. He was referring to the EKU Center for the Arts in Richmond.
Cason said a team from the Commission on Presidential Debates will visit Richmond to see the potential site and host city for themselves. It was unclear when the commission will make a final selection on debate sites.
With 2,100 seats, the EKU theater is the largest performing arts venue in Central Kentucky — larger than Lexington's Singletary Center for the Arts at the University of Kentucky and Danville's Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College.
EKU and Centre College competed to host a debate in 2012. Centre was eventually chosen to host the vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan.
Centre also hosted the 2008 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Michael Strysick, director of communication for Centre, said the private liberal arts school did not apply for a debate this year because it is in midst of a $200 million capital campaign.
"We do have an interest in hosting another debate in the future," Strysick said. But the fund-raising campaign "will take so much time and energy on (Vice President for College Relations) Richard Trollinger, who played a leadership role in the past two debates, and the staff at Centre College, so we need to focus on that."
Selection for either a presidential or vice presidential debate puts the national spotlight on the host. It can also mean more alumni giving, more out-of-state applications from potential students and the economic benefit that such an event can reap for the host city.
Other applicants are Belmont University, Nashville; the City of Birmingham, Ala.; City of McAllen, Texas; Dominican University of California in San Rafael, Calif.; Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, Ga.; Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.; Houston Community College, Houston; Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Fla.; Longwood University, Farmville, Va.; State University of New York Rockland Community College,, Suffern, N.Y.; Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas, Nev.; Washington University in St. Louis; West Virginia University and West Virginia State University, Charleston, W.Va., and Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
Hofstra University hosted the second of three presidential debates in 2012.
The CPD was established in 1987 and has sponsored all presidential and vice presidential general election debates since 1988.