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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Obstacles abound for future performers

    Students fill the McKale Center during the set-up of the recent Kanye West concert Thursday, April 24.
    Students fill the McKale Center during the set-up of the recent Kanye West concert Thursday, April 24.

    Following rapper Kanye West’s concert on campus April 24, ASUA pledged to get a top national act to play McKale Center every school year.

    That mission is rife with obstacles, however; in particular, McKale’s availability, said Steve Kozachik, assistant director of athletics in charge of facilities and event operations.

    McKale Center’s busy schedule during the school year – including basketball games, volleyball matches and gymnastics meets – holds only a select few open dates, he said.

    These available times must coincide with artists’ open dates as they happen to be in the region on tour. As a result, the university must play a game of chance that requires several fields of interest to line up correctly, he said.

    “”You have to find the right artists and availability,”” Kozachik said. “”A lot of it is about being in the right place at the right time.””

    Availability is not the only major difficulty in booking large events. Because of the arena’s capacity of around 15,000, ticket numbers in excess of the 8,100 sold for the West concert are needed to adequately fill McKale’s space, a challenge many acts will be unable to meet, he said.

    The types of acts able to draw such ticket sales do not usually consider Tucson when tour dates are being set, the result of a lack of tradition and viable venues, he said.

    The same is true for the improbability of setting up a non-tour major act, he said.

    The only realistic option for the university lies with finding major artists who can fill McKale seats and who happen to be have open time between two tour dates in the immediate area, he said. This free time must also line up with an open McKale date.

    At the time of West’s concert, he had four open dates between concerts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

    McKale’s unattractiveness as a concert venue is also a result of its setup difficulties. Because the arena lacks a loading dock, all setup must be done manually, a prospect that requires a tremendous amount of manpower and dedication, Kozachik said.

    While event set-ups may be difficult, they are mostly afterthoughts when artists’ companies set up concert dates, said Tommy Bruce, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

    Most of McKale’s available dates are in the fall months, a time when artists are less likely to be on tour, he said.

    The majority of tour dates are in the spring and summer months, so there is a small window of availability, usually in late April and early May, he said.

    Despite these obstacles, ASUA is confident it can meet its goal, Bruce said.

    ASUA hopes hosting the West concert will open doors for artist recognition of the university, as each year that passed following the Garth Brooks concert in 1996 acted as a hindrance to attracting major acts, he said.

    When spring tour dates are set by major artists this fall, ASUA will look at which dates and acts are viable options for next year, Bruce said.

    “”It just comes down to planning far enough in advance,”” he said.

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