Concert goes to dogs

Students' union loses $100K on Snoop rap show

Published on September 25, 2009

The Memorial University of Newfoundland Students' Union (MUNSU) is taking a $100,000 hit to the coffers, resulting from poor ticket sales for a Sept. 12 concert that featured rapper Snoop Dogg and was presented by the students' union.

With only half of the available tickets having been sold - 2,560 tickets - the union that represents 13,000 undergraduate students at the university has spent "about $106,000, plus or minus $5,000," MUNSU executive member Brad Russell said.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland Students' Union (MUNSU) is taking a $100,000 hit to the coffers, resulting from poor ticket sales for a Sept. 12 concert that featured rapper Snoop Dogg and was presented by the students' union.

With only half of the available tickets having been sold - 2,560 tickets - the union that represents 13,000 undergraduate students at the university has spent "about $106,000, plus or minus $5,000," MUNSU executive member Brad Russell said.

"We knew the costs going into the concert," said Russell, who said the union had to sell 80 per cent of the tickets to break even on the Mile One Centre event.

That level of ticket sales was considered possible, said Russell, who arranges artist bookings. The sales for a concert featuring Our Lady Peace a year ago generated a $50,000 profit for the union, he said.

"We were hoping to sell out with the success of the concert the previous year. We were hoping to have the same response."

Cameron Campbell, MUNSU director of external affairs, communications and research, said the Our Lady Peace response was the hope, but the union also normally expects to spend about $30,000 for "large acts which we subsidize in order to bring here."

On Thursday, one student union representative publicly questioned MUNSU's involvement in big-name concerts.

Chris Bruce, a director-at-large, posted the details of the Snoop Dogg event on Facebook and is credited as stating that, "it essentially comes back to a broader philosophical question - should MUNSU be doing this kind of shit at all? From the very apparent risks, to me the answer is no."

Aside from the unexpectedly low ticket sales, Bruce said, the union gave out 1,000 complimentary tickets and "$10,000 was paid to get Snoop Dogg to come to (The Breezeway) for 'no less than 60 minutes,'" after the show.

Campbell confirmed there was a paid appearance at the bar.

"There was a contractual agreement to have Snoop Dogg show up at The Breezeway," he said.

Campbell said he could not state with certainty the amount provided for the rap star. The after-event was also sponsored, meaning the union did not have to cover the full amount for the appearance, he said.

A second-year student in the business faculty, Bertram Nash, said he thinks the concert was "a pricey risk."

"One genre of music isn't going to please the whole school," he said, noting the union was also competing on ticket sales with a show featuring Busta Rhymes, scheduled for the week after, before being postponed.

"It was expensive, too," said second-year biology student Codey Pilgrim. "Tickets were, like, $50. Not every student can spend $50 in the first week."

Asked why the financial numbers for the union - particularly a breakdown of student fee use and a projected budget - were not posted online, the executive members contradicted each other on what the current union policies are.

While Russell said that, "last year it was posted" and "(2009) finances will be going up shortly once the budgets have been ratified by the board," Campbell said quarterly reports are given to the executive board and open to members of the student union, "which are the undergraduate students of Memorial," he told The Telegram.

Both representatives said the student union's regular meetings - the next being Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. - in the union council chambers are open to any student who would like to put forward a proposal for student entertainment projects.

The meetings are also simultaneously broadcast on 93.5 CHMR FM.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com