SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas State University’s Strahan Arena is no stranger to pivotal moments — and next fall, it will be the site of the first presidential debate.
“We’re glad that we have the first presidential debate because we know that that will be the one that will probably be the most watched,” said Texas State President Dr. Kelly Damphousse.
With the debate set for Sept. 16, 2024, the university is set to make history as the first Texas location selected for a presidential debate. It’s also the only state university to have graduated a U.S. president — Lyndon B. Johnson.
“We thought that we had a real opportunity to showcase Texas through the lens of the place that made him who he was,” said Damphousse.
Damphousse estimates the debate will cost around $5 million and hopes supporters and alumni will help with the history-making event.
The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved a contract on Monday afternoon to lease the university’s event center to the debate commission the week leading up to the debate.
According to the agenda for the special called meeting, that contract “does not exceed $3 million.”
The university’s selection is getting students and first-time voters excited.
“People are talking about it,” said student Jared Olivares. “We’re all going to miss class to go see it. I mean, it’s amazing.”
Amelia Balfour is also looking forward to next fall.
“I’m not really super in-tune with a lot of political events, so the fact that it’ll be so easily accessible is going to be really cool,” she said.
Some students, like Amari Walker, were surprised the university was chosen.
“We’re not, you know, UT or A&M,” she said. “So I’m just kind of wondering why, but it’s pretty cool.”
As the arena known for hosting basketball games and graduations prepares for a national audience, Olivares is excited to show school pride.
“I hope Bobcats show out,” he said. “I hope, you know, the residents come out, and it’s going to be a lovely day.”
The second presidential debate will take place Oct. 1 at Virginia State University, and the third will be on Oct. 9 at the University of Utah.
The only vice presidential debate will be held on Sept. 25 at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.