CNN and NY1 turned an pair of old Navy warehouses into a high-tech space for Thursday night’s Democratic debate, complete with an enormous media filing center.
The Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard is where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will face off, but it’s also where Iowa-class battleships were built and launched during World War II.
“We’re looking to make a little more history tonight,” CNN Washington bureau chief and senior vice president Sam Feist told TheWrap.
CNN searched far and wide for a venue to accommodate the debate with only nine days notice. Broadway theaters were too small, major arenas don’t have separate areas for media and most adequate event spaces were already booked.
“The Brooklyn Navy Yard redevelopment is something that has been going on for a long time. This is now, in the last few years, event space and a lot of TV and movie filming happens here because of these pre-existing large warehouses,” Feist said. “As we began to think about the possibility of a New York debate, we looked around [different boroughs] and we came across the Duggal Greenhouse.”
Feist realized the Duggal Greenhouse was perfect and his next step was to locate an equally impressive space to hold the 500-plus credentialed members of the media. Luckily, the building across the street did the job.
“Five days ago, this entire building was filled with shelves of food, drink, bags of grain and kegs of beer,” Feist said. “We move it aside, but it’s an operating warehouse. They’ve done a remarkable job converting this into a media center.”
Tonight’s event is the first presidential primary debate in a generation and it comes five days before the first New York primary that has actually mattered in quite some time.
“We’re thrilled to put together this debate right here in New York. It’s an authentically New York debate,” Feist said.
Feist expects a lot of “important” New Yorkers to be on hand, kncluding Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Despite the star power, the vast majority of the crowd will be made up of Clinton and Sanders supporters.
“We want to have as balanced an audience as possible,” Feist said.
The debate kicks off at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 PT and will be moderated by Wolf Blitzer. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and NY1 Host and CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis will join as questioners.