Enough money has been raised to guarantee that the second presidential debate will be held in Los Angeles next week, but it probably will not take place at the Shrine Auditorium, which was the preferred site, the sponsor of the event announced Thursday.
Alternative sites are being explored at USC, UCLA and Pepperdine University.
A spokesman for the Commission on Presidential Debates said that “in the neighborhood of $400,000" had been donated by corporations and foundations to help pay the estimated $500,000 it will cost to turn an auditorium into a TV studio and news media workplace for the debate.
“We feel comfortable now that we’ll get the proper funding,” Robert A. Neuman said, citing fresh commitments that include $100,000 from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, $50,000 from Atlantic Richfield Co. and $50,000 from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.
Previously, Times Mirror Co. and the Los Angeles Times pledged $100,000 for the debate rematch between Vice President George Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. The two nominees will square off either next Thursday or Friday, depending on how long the American League baseball playoffs last.
Refuses to Pay League
Neuman said that “we have abandoned the Shrine Auditorium as a site” because the commission refuses to pay $90,000 to the League of Women Voters, the debate’s original sponsor, as reimbursement for expenses to get the league to relinquish a rental contract with the auditorium. After the league pulled out of the debate in a dispute over the ground rules, the commission, which sponsored the first presidential debate last month in Winston-Salem, N. C., stepped in as sponsor.
League spokeswoman Stephanie Drea would not discount use of the Shrine site, saying that league officers had a “very amicable discussion” Wednesday with the commission’s executive director, Janet Brown, and are seeking further negotiations.
Brown said debates were expensive because the parties wanted auditoriums that could seat not only family and friends of the candidates but also large numbers of important campaign contributors. There are huge labor expenses, she said, for building the stage set, lighting the auditorium and putting in tables, TV monitors and telephones for 2,000 journalists.
“Lighting alone can run as high as $100,000,” she said.