Student government loses $18K on Mraz performance

By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Organizers of the Jason Mraz concert lost nearly $18,000 after initially saying they hoped to break even.

"Chances (were that) we were going to lose money, but personally, I did not think it would be that much," said Ryan Patterson, director of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Special Events Committee, which organized the event.

Even though 1,656 tickets to the Sept. 21 Centennial Hall concert were sold, they were 700 tickets short of selling out, according to a performance sales report.

The projection shortfall was exactly $17,847, or 41 percent of the committee's $43,000 budget, according to the report.

Patterson said the committee paid $35,000, or 70 percent of the total cost, to bring Mraz to campus, with an understanding about the uncertainty of college concerts.

"Concerts are always risky because they are dependent on projections of ticket sales," Patterson said. "(But) most people I talked to thought it was a safe bet."

Patterson said he still considered the show a success because it brought a "big name" onto campus and was the second stop on Mraz's world tour.

Though Patterson didn't think the disappointing sales were due to a lack of advertising, next time he would consider discounting the balcony seating in hopes that more people would come, he said.

The loss of funds will not affect programming for the rest of the year because future concerts are not going to carry as big of a risk, Patterson said.

"We're finalizing one more concert in November, and we should end up with half the budget for the second half of the year," Patterson said.

ASUA Treasurer Keven Barker said he signed all the projected costs beforehand but has not yet looked at the final numbers.

ASUA officials will review the concert at the executive board meeting Thursday and evaluate its successes and shortcomings, Barker said.

Claudia Dávila, ASUA adviser, said she considers the concert as a starting point for future events. She also said the program is an opportunity for student leaders to gain hands-on experience.

"The directors get leadership skills in putting on these events," Dávila said. "And that's what we're here for."

The sales report also showed that UA students bought 970 tickets for $22 each, while 108 were sold to non-UA students for the same price. There were 478 general admission tickets sold for $27 apiece.

The event also cost $2,000 to hire police and security, almost $900 for catering for the bands, and $7,500 for production equipment. In addition, $5,000 was paid to Centennial Hall for renting the building and incidentals, according to the report.