Ole Miss prepares for week in the spotlight

OXFORD, MS (WMC-TV) - The 1250 seat Ford Center on the campus of Ole Miss hosts everything from Broadway shows to concerts, but it's biggest act ever comes next week.

Friday, Norm Easterbrook continued his job of overseeing the Ford Center's transformation into a debate hall for next week's Presidential Debate.

"The set is designed for the candidates to be standing, and there will be a desk in front of them, and down slightly (is) where the moderator will be sitting," he said.

Some 200 seats had to be removed to accommodate the set and cameras.

Next Friday, the candidates will each walk through individually to get comfortable in the space and see how they look on camera.

The candidates appearance and comfort has been planned down to the slightest detail.  In fact, a special ventilation system has been installed in the theater to keep each candidate at his preferred temperature.

"In terms of the physical atmosphere for the audience, it'll be 62 degrees in the theatre, and the heating and cooling will be independently controlled for each of the candidates on the stage," Easterbrook said.

For members of the media, a 25,000 square foot air conditioned tent has been erected, complete with 800 phone and computer-ready workstations and dozens of flat screen televisions to watch the debate.

Political pundits, campaign spokesmen - the "spinners", they're called - will be there, in a space cleverly called 'Spin Alley,' where they will communicate their candidates platform to the media.

And with the eyes of the world watching, Easterbrook says, Ole Miss is the perfect place.

"I mean, that's what this university is about," he said. "We encourage people with differences to come together on our campus and learn from each other, and that is exactly what is happening here on that night, in front of the world."

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