Crisler Arena is known for being the home basketball court for the men’s and women’s basketball teams and little else.
Rarely, in recent years, has it been known as a concert house. Crisler once played host to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who performed in 1971 to protest the jailing of John Sinclair, who was arrested for attempting to sell two joints of marijuana to undercover police officers. Sinclair’s arrest also served as the inspiration for Hash Bash, a yearly rally supporting marijuana legalization. The last concert put on at Crisler was when Bob Dylan came to town in 2002.
Sure, there’s Hill Auditorium. But other schools in the Big Ten that also have concert halls, like Illinois and Michigan State, use their basketball arenas to host concerts, too.
So why not Crisler?
Athletic Department spokesman Bruce Madej said the building isn’t built to host concerts.
“For one thing, there’s no air conditioning, so that pretty much eliminates doing anything in the summer,” Madej said.
And because Crisler is also the only practice facility available to the basketball teams, groups find it difficult to schedule events there during the school year. The wrestling team also uses the stadium.
Julie Morgan, program adviser for Major Events, a group that plans concerts and performances at the University, said Crisler’s lack of concert equipment made it easy for groups to look elsewhere.
Because the arena doesn’t have a stage, a crew or a production staff, groups and artists looking to perform at Crisler would have to provide their own materials – a cost that many couldn’t handle, said Susan Pile, director of the University Unions Programs. Pile said many found it more convenient to hold concerts at venues like Michigan Theater.
Additionally, when the state budget tightened in 2003, the University decided to invest less money into the Major Events Office – the group that once sponsored shows at Crisler. Pile said that prior to cutting funding for the Major Events Office, the University lost about $50,000 because of the concerts held at Crisler in 2002.
Now, student organizations like Big Ticket Productions, which is part of the University Activities Center, sponsor shows on campus – just not at Crisler.
The group receives funding from the University, but it’s hardly enough to cover what it would cost to put on a show at Crisler, Pile said.
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