Tens of millions in the United States and around the world watched as Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska squared off on stage in the Field House in the university’s Athletics Complex.
Washington University in St. Louis has hosted more debates than any other institution in history. Between 1992 and 2008, the Commission on Presidential Debates asked the university to host debates in five consecutive elections. The debate scheduled for Sept. 25, 1996, was canceled two weeks prior. The Oct. 9, 2016, event will be the fifth debate held at Washington University.
President George W. Bush debated Sen. John Kerry Oct. 8, 2004, during a nationally televised town-hall forum from the Field House at the Athletics Complex.
The university had nine months to prepare for the Oct. 17, 2000 presidential debate between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, which was done as a “town-hall meeting” format in the university’s Field House.
The 1996 debate between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole scheduled for September 25 was later canceled following a decision to reduce the number of presidential debates from three to two.
The university had one week to transform the gymnasium of the Field House – the site of the 1904 World Olympics – into a red-carpeted debate hall for the first nationally televised three-candidate presidential debate on Oct. 11, 1992.