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Hofstra debate boosts the university and Nassau county


Hempstead, NY: By hosting the Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Hofstra University and Nassau County may have incurred huge costs, but it was a matter of pride for both and also promised tangible returns in the short or long term.
In the hope to elevate Hofstra’s reputation as a nationally recognized institution, its leaders have invested millions in the two presidential debates (the first was in 2008) and a 2010 debate in the governor’s race to gain exposure, attract applicants from outside the tristate area energize donors and students.
It was Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz’s idea to apply to host the 2008 debate after the university attracted a $3.5 million gift to found a presidential studies center in 2006.
Hofstra was chosen both times in large part because of its facilities: the debate hall is big enough to accommodate several different debate formats, it has room for large production trucks and media filing equipment, and there is enough parking for thousands of journalists, debate personnel and attendees, said Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Hofstra spent $4.5 million getting the campus ready for its national appearance. A donor has picked up most of the costs incurred by Hofstra to host the debate.
Meanwhile, the influx of media and other observers on Long Island to watch President Obama take on Mitt Romney translated to a big boost for the hospitality industry near the Hempstead campus. The Garden City Hotel was booked solid since Friday.
On the other hand, an estimated $600,000 was spent for the all-hands-on-deck police presence. This time since a sitting president was taking part in the debate, more security measures were implemented.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said the cost of hosting the debate is worthwhile because of the work created, the sales tax revenue collected and the spotlight the debate puts on Nassau.