Spring Fling: Who really profits?

By Jennifer Quilici
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 8, 1996

Spring Fling, the country's largest student-managed carnival, has become a big business at the UA - though not a money-making venture for the university.

The whole purpose of the event is to allow clubs and organizations to make money, said Kirk Seeley, business and public administration senior and executive director of the carnival.

He said Spring Fling operates on a break-even basis, meaning it does not lose money or make money.

The carnival, held on the University of Arizona campus since 1974, is a program of the Associated Students.

This year, ASUA provided $210,000 for Spring Fling to put toward expenses and promotion, Seeley said. But Seeley said that amount does not even touch what the carnival actually costs.

He would not say specifically how much over the $210,000 it cost organizers to run the carnival.

But he did say the rest of the money comes from corporate sponsors, like Fox Television and Dominos Pizza. Seeley said they give Spring Fling money, advertisements and product support, while the carnival provides them with exposure, good public relations and associations with the university.

Seeley said he expects the 77 clubs and organizations who participate to raise about $75,000 all together, all of which comes from running entertainment or food and beverage booths at the carnival.

He said this is the best way ASUA has come up with to help clubs and organizations raise money.

Spring Fling staff charges clubs and organizations about $50 to set up booths for the carnival. The rest of the money they make, they keep, Seeley said.

"Spring Fling is also an intense breeding ground for leadership and involvement for the clubs and organizations," he said.

Seeley said people who complain about carnival costs do not understand that Spring Fling is a business and, as such, its organizers must spend a lot of money to make it successful.

Seeley said Spring Fling's biggest expenses come in setting up the field on the McKale Lawn, including electrical, field maintenance, health code inspections, fencing and lumber.

He said about 25 percent of the carnival's budget goes to the university for expenses like paying the UA Police Department to be on the field during the carnival, Facilities Management to help set up and maintain the field and the university for use of the field.

He said he does not understand people's complaints with the carnival because it is a very unique way to make money.

"What I don't understand is people complain about paying $4 for a carnival with free shows and other events, but they'll spend $40 in a bar," Seeley said.

He said this year Spring Fling is slightly under budget because organizers have cut back on expenses from previous years. They have fewer business trailers, fewer trucks and were not providing free T-shirts and sweatshirts to carnival volunteers, he said.