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University rejects concert

Matt Bramanti | Monday, February 9, 2004

It could have been a beautiful day, but University administrators have rejected a proposed concert featuring U2 and Bruce Springsteen.The concert, proposed last spring by Student Union Board manager Charlie Ebersol, would have been held in Notre Dame Stadium, with proceeds to benefit AIDS efforts in Africa.The concert was originally planned for last fall, but Ebersol resubmitted the proposal, with the intention of holding the concert this year. “Last spring, Father [Mark] Poorman said he was interested in exploring the event for this spring,” Ebersol said. “However, [last] fall he was not as positive.” Ebersol said Carole Coffin, Poorman’s administrative assistant, said Poorman, vice president of student affairs, would not comment on the concert.However, Poorman told the Board of Trustees at a meeting last week that there is not a prohibition against concerts in the stadium, but that security and human resources create difficulties.”It’s pretty complicated because it has a lot of other complications besides the money to host the concert,” Poorman said. University spokesman Matt Storin said the proposal was not approved by the administration. “Several university officers considered this proposal and decided that we did not have the resources or personnel to pull off an endeavor of this size within the necessary time frame,” Storin said.Ebersol said he remains optimistic that the plan will reappear soon. “There has been a great deal of talk in the past three weeks … among members of the faculty and administration to reinvigorate the concert and see it through next spring,” he said. “This is not some pipe dream.”However, Storin said the plan is effectively dead. “The proposal remains off the table,” he said. “I am not aware of any ongoing discussions toward resurrecting the idea, whether for 2005 or any other date.”The Nelson Mandela Foundation would have been the prime beneficiary of the event. The foundation sponsors efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, including public awareness and research initiatives.Ebersol said the AIDS epidemic in Africa merits the attention of students at Notre Dame and nationwide. “It’s important for students … to take a much stronger and more educated stance on Africa and the black plague that is decimating an entire continent,” he said. “This is the single most important thing I have or ever will work on at Notre Dame.”The concert’s magnitude raised eyebrows in the administration.Associate athletic director John Heisler said his office met with Ebersol to discuss the plan, but that the stadium location never received final approval. “We’re aware of [the proposal],” Heisler said. “But I don’t know that we ever got to the point of those decisions being made.”Bob Zerr, director of risk management and safety, said his office would also be involved in approval for such a significant event. He said risk management officials met with Ebersol, and the office gave him specific recommendations. “We laid out what he needed to do to get approval,” Zerr said.The overall budget for the production would be about $1.25 million, Ebersol said. He said SUB had received nearly $1.5 million in pledges from several major corporations. The pledges would cover all expenses associated with the concert, Ebersol said. “That would more than cover the cost of the event and afford us the ability to donate every dollar raised,” he said. In particular, SUB received a $1 million pledge from telecom giant AT&T.Ebersol said he expected the 65,000-seat concert would sell out easily, raising millions for the charities.AT&T has worked with Mandela’s organization in the past. In November, company executives announced a partnership with the foundation to set up a toll-free donation hotline.The toll-free number included the number 46664, which was Mandela’s inmate number during his 18-year prison term for his work against apartheid.Despite the administration’s rejection of the idea, Ebersol vowed the concert would take place in 2005 at the latest.”It can and will be realized before I graduate,” Ebersol said.”One day, Notre Dame students will wake up on the morning of the biggest concert this country’s schools have ever seen.” “Imagine it: U2, the Boss and Nelson Mandela live from the 50-yard line.”