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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Concert loses almost $1 million

    Following the Jay-Z concert last week, ASUA officials were quick to call the show a raging success. However, their pocketbooks may beg to differ.

    Last week’s show lost the student government more than $900,000.

    The $1.4 million show sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona generated just more than $500,000 in revenue, through ticket sales and merchandising, revealed outgoing ASUA President Tommy Bruce Monday.

    Jay-Z was paid $750,000 for his performance.

    Bruce partially blamed the downturn in the economy for the concert’s low attendance, saying that when preliminary plans were made for the show starting last May, the economy had not yet shown severe signs of financial loss.

    “”Nobody predicted the economy would be the way it is now last May,”” Bruce said. “”The economy was getting worse, but we had already committed to doing a show.””

    In order to offset the loss, ASUA must empty out the entire $350,000 from its emergency reserve fund. This still leaves the student government with $567,000 to cover, which it will accomplish via an agreement with the UofA Bookstore. ASUA will pay the bookstore back in increments over the next five years.

    Under ASUA’s current agreement with the bookstore – which is re-evaluated every five years – the student government receives about $530,000 of the bookstore’s revenue. That number will drop by $114,000 over the next five years, said Frank Farias, director of the UofA Bookstore.

    The financial relationship between the bookstore and ASUA began in the 1930s on the heels of an Arizona Supreme Court decision, Farias said.

    Although the west side of the venue has a 17,000-person capacity, Arizona Stadium only held a maximum of 11,500 spectators at one time during the show, Bruce said.

    ASUA sold a total of 6,100 tickets, with about 5,000 more given away from newspaper, radio and student government promotions.

    When the organization had originally decided to put on a show at Arizona Stadium, their goal was to sell 30,000 tickets – 22,000 more than were sold at last year’s Kanye West concert at McKale Center, Bruce told the Daily Wildcat in September 2008.

    “”We exhausted every avenue,”” Bruce said. “”At the end of the day, the revenue did not meet the expenses.””

    Bruce stressed that no tuition or fee dollars have been or will be used to cover the losses from the concert.

    The lead-up to such a large-scale concert began four years ago, with ASUA slowly building up its reputation through smaller shows until it had proven it could handle a big-time concert, Bruce said.

    “”You have to prove yourself in the industry,”” he said. “”There’s a lot to be learned about what we’ve done.””

    Despite the financial losses, Bruce still called the concert a success, because it can be used as a retention and recruitment tool for the university, Bruce said.

    Besides providing students with an entertaining show with prominent names, the university now knows a football stadium concert venue is viable, he added.

    It was Arizona Stadium’s first show since Fleetwood Mac visited the UA campus in 1977.

    In the wake of a high six-figure loss, ASUA is still looking to continue a tradition of bringing big-name artists to campus next year, although the focus will be on a more fiscally sound approach, said incoming ASUA President Chris Nagata.

    “”It’s not an ideal situation,”” Nagata said. “”But we’ll make the best of it and move forward from here.””

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