Where Was the Democratic Debate Held? Before & After the Transformation


During tonight’s Democratic debate co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times, the candidates often referred to their Ohio audience. That’s because the debate was held in Ohio this time around at a university’s recreation center. It’s the second debate hosted by CNN and the rec center was completely transformed for the debate.

The Debate Was Held at Otterbein University

The debate was held at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Westerville, Ohio is in Delaware and Franklin Counties, a northeast suburb of Columbus. The population was a little over 36,000 in the 2010 census. Now it’s closer to 40,000.

Otterbein University is a private liberal arts college with 74 majors. It was founded in 1847, so the university has a lot of history.

Interestingly, the location of the debate itself was at Otterbein’s athletic center, called the Rike Center, Dispatch.com reported. The athletic center underwent a “total transformation.” Black curtains were draped in the center and a beautiful star curtain was added to provide a regal ambiance.

The candidates also had their own trailers with covered walkways outside the center.

Here are some photos of the transformed center:



GettySen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) appear on television screens in the Media Center.


Even more fascinating is looking at the before-and-after photos.

And in this video you can watch the center transforming into the beauty we saw for the debate.

As you can see, the transformation for the debate is impressive.

Otterbein President John Comerford spoke to the crowd before the debate.

Otterbein University’s Twitter account live tweeted during the debate.

The following candidates were in tonight’s debate:

  • Joe Biden, former Vice President
  • Cory Booker, New Jersey senator
  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Julián Castro, former HUD Secretary and former mayor
  • Kamala Harris, California senator
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
  • Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman
  • Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
  • Tom Steyer, businessman
  • Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
  • Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii congresswoman

In order to qualify, the candidates needed the same qualifications as September: at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls between June 28 and October 1, and donations from 130,000 unique donors.

The next debate after this will take place on November 20 in Georgia. It will be hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post. The qualifications are stricter for this next one. Candidates must poll at 3 percent or higher four qualifying state or national polls, or they must poll at 5 percent or higher in two qualifying state polls, with a deadline of one week before the debate. They must also receive donations from 165,000 unique donors, which must include 600 unique donors in 20 states. According to NBC, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, Steyer, Warren, and Yang have qualified for the November debates so far.