If you are a University of Miami student, you anxiously awaited the opening of the Convocation Center earlier this year. And, chances are, if you are a University of Miami student, you probably haven’t even set foot inside the arena yet.
Not that there’s anything wrong with our basketball team or Coldplay, but I was probably more excited to see a camel chilling on the UC patio the other day (the fact that viewing my dromedary friend didn’t cost $35 probably helped, too). How can the University justify the construction of a multi-million dollar facility if it is only for seasonal use? Basketball season takes up only a few months out of the year, so unless anyone has a better idea, the University should look into booking musical entertainment for the center.
Now, I know this school has a heavy college music influence-we need look no further than WVUM, which will basically play anything (Radiohead, Jurassic 5, Bright Eyes, Lagwagon, etc.) except mainstream. I also know that UM can pull in at least decently attractive musical acts for a college crowd (see and see also New Found Glory). Thus far, I have been thoroughly disappointed with the Gabe Dixon Band, Floetry, and other no-hit wonders. (I have heard, to the University’s credit, of an upcoming reggae concert featuring Sean Paul among others, and I am hoping this is a beginning of a long trend of musical acts making their way down to our campus.)
Other than pleasing its students, the University also has expectations to fulfill for the local community. South Miami and Coral Gables have been in desperate need of a venue to compete with West Palm’s MARS Music Amphitheatre, Boca’s Mizner Park, and the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, and now that we have it, it seems ridiculous for us not to utilize it. Are we truly led to believe that a 7,000-seat arena in the heart of Miami can’t compete with locations two hours away?
Having attended high school just down the street, and having made my fair share of two-hour drives only to get my shoes stuck in a beer-dirt concoction, I can tell you that almost any student would rather save their gas money than make the trek northward. So, now the pressure’s on for the University to not only book acts, but acts that generate interest from the student body. Students want groups like Outkast, Dispatch, Weezer, the Roots, OAR, and other musical acts with strong college followings and reasonable ticket prices to make appearances here, not flavor-of-the-day mainstream garbage like the All-American Rejects.
And maybe we could bring that camel back, too.
Ben Minkus is a freshman studying Broadcast Journalism; he can be contacted at Boopalee@aol.com.