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Organizers still finalizing crowd size for Cleveland's presidential debate

In a one-on-one interview, a senior advisor says they are "identifying final numbers."

CLEVELAND — Peter Eyre is no stranger to Cleveland.

The senior advisor for the Commission on Presidential Debates helped plan the 2004 vice presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “The university was a fantastic host and partner for the commission, and we’re thrilled to be back in Cleveland.”

Things will be a little bit different this time around: There will be fewer people inside, and Eyre's goal is to keep everyone healthy.

“We’re thinking a lot about precautions in light of pandemic issues,” he said, adding the other main challenge is that the pavilion where the debate will be held is an atrium and not an auditorium. It required constructing an entirely new custom stage set.

“It’s remarkable,” Eyre told 3News, “and something that takes a lot of creativity.”

Organizers are also figuring out just how many people to let inside. Eyre confirms there will be a live audience, but they are still “identifying final numbers.” On-air and online, he said the visuals should resemble those of years past.

“The candidates will be each standing behind a podium, the moderator will be seated at the desk,” he said.

Those who live and work in the area will notice a few changes: On Saturday, the main entrance of the Clinic will move from the Miller Pavilion on Euclid Avenue to the Glickman Building on East 96th. The parking garage on East 93rd will close to the public.

The Samson Pavilion will also be closed through Wednesday, and the Cleveland Museum of Art has announced it will be closed Tuesday and reopen Wednesday at noon.

All attendees, including journalists, will be required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the debate. The Cleveland Clinic is offering the service on its main campus.