Vice presidential debate preparations . . . by the numbers

In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, hundreds of people rolled up their sleeves to accommodate both candidates and perhaps the biggest swarm of media to ever descend on the University campus. Here are some fun facts and numbers that indicate the magnitude of the event:

More than 2,800 reporters have requested credentials, and they’ll need equipment. Preparations have been made for seven networks, and 30 network affiliate trucks to have office space, parking space and electricity. The actual number of news media who are credentialed will not be known until the debate is over.

To accommodate these reporters, nearly eight miles of electrical cable is laid throughout the complex.

To secure all this personnel, equipment and cable, 5,000 feet of chain link fencing is erected.

To accommodate wireless needs of our visitors, there are four “cellular on wheels” (COWs) on campus, for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. COWs are self-contained trailers with towers used to provide expanded cellular network coverage and capacity and are routinely used at major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Rose Bowl, or in emergency situations when cellular service was never present, such as wild fires in wilderness areas, or when cell towers have been destroyed, such as along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

To help out as needed, 200 student volunteers, backed up by 100 alternate volunteers, are standing by.

This is the fourth debate held at the Washington University Athletic Complex, the site of the 1904 World Olympics, since 1992.

And if anyone is interested in predicting the outcome of the Nov. 4 election — Washington University dining services can help out. From Sept. 22 through Nov. 3, an untold number of elephant-shaped cookies covered by red icing and donkey-shaped cookies with blue icing will be sold for $1.25 each. Each cookie will be counted and a tally posted at the end of each day. While this is an unscientific poll, WUSTL dining services is one for one — in 2004, more elephants were sold, successfully predicting the election of George W. Bush.

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For media assistance, please contact:
Gerry Everding, University Communications: (314) 935-6375;