Another opportunity for USM to be in the national spotlight has passed.
Student organizers of Spring Fling 2002 had hoped to close a deal with entertainment giant Clear Channel to bring MTV’s Campus Invasion to the Gorham campus on Monday, April 29.
The Free Press learned late Friday afternoon that all dates for MTV’s campus tour are booked and the popular program would not be added to the Spring Fling event schedule.
An official with Clear Channel’s Cambridge, Mass. office confirmed there were no longer tour dates available to Spring Fling organizers. Also confirmed was Clear Channel offered the April 29 slot to USM and other schools only after cancellation of a show by officials at Western Connecticut State University.
The Free Press broke the news to lead organizer Jon Taylor who as of midday Saturday had not received a return call from Clear Channel.
The MTV show would have been the icing on an event Taylor and other student organizers hope will become an annual big budget offering for the USM community. Attempts to bring in big name acts like Alien Ant Farm and Jeremiah Freed were unsuccessful, so organizers were encouraged by early communication with Clear Channel about the MTV tour.
“They wanted to add USM as a venue for them, not just this year, but for future years,” Taylor said of early discussions with the entertainment company. “Things seemed good.”
But according to Taylor, company representatives failed to return his phone calls for more than a month. Taylor said he and fellow organizers assumed the deal wasn’t going to happen, so they set about booking performers on their own.
Then Clear Channel called on Monday March 25 with an opening. Taylor took the offer to administrators.
University officials initially said no to the April 29 date due to concerns about, among other things, parking, noise, and damage to the field hockey field, which was requested by student organizers. According to Vice President for Student Development Craig Hutchinson, there was also concern for the last-minute timing of the offered date and pressure from Clear Channel to accept quickly.
“They wanted an answer immediately,” said Hutchinson. “That threw up a red flag for me.”
Student organizers met early Friday afternoon with Hutchinson and President Richard Pattenaude. All agreed to a plan where MTV officials would have used the Field House for night concerts and the soccer field for daytime events, pending approval from Athletic Director Al Bean.
The Free Press attended the meeting, only to find out later that MTV is no longer available.
Taylor said that he is still excited about events already scheduled for Spring Fling 2002. The event is also billed as a benefit for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Confirmed bookings include Boom Slang, Loki, Ill Natural and national act Dust to Dust. WMPG and WGME 13 will also be present during the festivities, which will feature a skydiving demonstration, inflatable amusements, and a barbecue.
The near-brush with national attention is reminiscent of an attempt two years ago to bring Yasser Arafat to USM as commencement speaker for the 2000 graduation ceremony. University officials set a deadline for an answer from Arafat and began considering other candidates after the Palestinian leader missed the deadline, though ongoing problems in the Middle East might also have made arrangements more difficult.
Arts and Entertainment Editor Scott Marcoux can be contacted at : [email protected]