Outraged students took to social media on Thursday, April 10 when the Undergraduate Student Government posted on Facebook and Twitter that the Athletics Department wanted a $40,000 semi-truck flooring to protect the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium turf during the Brookfest concert. USG asked students to tweet at the Athletics Twitter account to express their disapproval.
According to Assistant Athletics Director for Communications Thomas Chen, Athletics sent USG a quote of $28,000 for the flooring on Thursday, but USG had already enlisted the help of the students.
“At no point did Athletics tell USG that the cost would be $40,000,” Chen said in an email. “In fact, a quote for the flooring was not delivered to USG until 12:20 p.m., Thursday, which was already after USG posted this Facebook message encouraging people to voice disapproval over a price tag that did not exist.”
Chen explained the $28,000 goes more towards compensating the concert setup and clean up rather than the actual cost of the floor.
“The quote that was delivered to USG has the cost at approximately $28,000,” Chen said. “In good faith, Athletics attempted to get cheaper floor covering, but the expense involved is directly tied to the overtime labor of setting up and breaking down the floor, due to the fact that we must get the field ready for practices and games in less than 12 hours rather than the floor itself.”
Some students were concerned that the funds required for the flooring would go back to Athletics and cause students to pay more money.
But Chen clarified that holding the event in the stadium does not provide Athletics any financial gain.
“For this concert, Athletics is providing the stadium free of the usual rental charges that outside groups must pay to use the facility,” he said. “No money is going to Athletics for this concert. The only costs that USG is incurring are ones that they are already aware of because they have been a part of the planning process from day one.”
“Athletics assists with getting estimates together for USG for such items as Security, Custodial, LandTek, student workers and equipment; however, all associated costs are approved for and paid for directly by USG,” he continued.
In years past, the spring concert has been held in the Sports Complex. Although it is in the stadium this year, Chen said the general protocol has not changed.
“Each year, Athletics works with USG and UPD to put on the spring concert for the students in our facility,” he said. “This year has been no different, as our facilities office has been working for the last few months on a plan for this year’s concert. While Athletics normally has activity (games & practices) in LaValle Stadium almost every day of the spring semester, the department worked with USG to find a date for the concert by moving around already-scheduled practices.”
In order to get standing room on the floor of the venue this year, Chen said that USG and Athletics met with the fire marshal to ensure student safety and protect the turf.
Although USG initially agreed to an interview with The Statesman and later declined, the organization released a statement via social media on Friday, April 11, apologizing to the Athletics department.
Vice President of Communications Mario Ferone emailed a statement later Friday evening, saying USG has “been in talks with our advisor, Athletics, and others. We apologize to the Athletic Department. We realized we jumped the gun as negotiations were still early, and costs will be less than originally estimated.”
USG also announced on Friday that tickets for the April 23 concert will go on sale on Friday, April 18 at 8:30 a.m. in the Union Ticket Office.