For the second time this summer, a debate venue has pulled out of hosting a presidential debate due to concerns over health safety related to the Coronavirus. We reported last month in June that the University of Michigan had decided to pull the plug on plans to host the second presidential debate, sending the event south to the city of Miami.

Now, the University of Notre Dame is following suit and has decided to back out of hosting the first presidential debate, set for Sept. 29, which means another venue change is in order. Have no fear, however, since the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was quick with a statement about where the first debate would land, in neighboring Ohio:

CPD is pleased to announce that the first presidential debate will be co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic and held at the Health Education Campus (HEC) in Cleveland, OH. Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic have collaborated on the HEC, a joint project where students in medicine, dentistry, nursing and related fields come together to learn and practice team-based care in simulated settings and, later, at actual clinical sites. This will be the second CPD-sponsored debate hosted by Case Western Reserve University. In 2004, the university was the site of the Vice Presidential debate.

The release goes on to note that Cleveland Clinic is the official “health advisor” for the CPD and will provide risk assessment and recommendations for all the debates.

Will there still be an audience, or tickets available for this debate? As of now, that decision will be made closer to the date:

The event will specifically take place on Case Western Reserve’s Health Education campus in the 477,000-square-foot Samson Pavilion with a series of “risk-mitigation procedures,” including audience size, distance among seats and disinfectant measures, according to a statement from Case Western and the Cleveland Clinic.

But the institutions said that “the precise nature of those plans — including whether an audience is present — will depend on the status of the pandemic as the event draws closer.”

If I had to gamble, I’d be surprised to see any kind of audience materialize at the debate. Perhaps a handful of students, but in small numbers, might be offered tickets for the event. As for the general public, it seems unlikely that tickets would be available given the overwhelming demand and terribly limited availability due to Covid-19 distancing and capacity limitations.

As it stands now, here is the list of debates set to begin in late-September:

First presidential debate:
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
(Originally to be held at the University Notre Dame)

Vice presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Second presidential debate:
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL
(Originally to be held at the University of Michigan)

Third presidential debate:
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

We have complete debate information at the 2020 Debate Schedule page including start times, tv channels, how to watch, and more.