The award-winning Mountain Crest, Davis and American Fork marching bands have faced tough competitors before - and won.
But they've learned recently that they are no match for the "Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World."The Rolling Stones, who have scheduled an Oct. 23 stop at the University of Utah's Rice Stadium, have forced the cancellation of the 1994 Western States Marching Band Competition, which involved some 3,000 kids from 25 marching bands around the West and Canada.
Sponsored by the university, the competition was originally scheduled for Oct. 21-22. But on Oct. 21, about 250 workers must begin erecting the huge, high-tech "Voodoo Lounge" stage for the Stones concert.
That situation has unexpectedly forced the U. bands office to cancel the marching band event, leaving the high schools to look elsewhere to show off their talent. In the case of Davis High, there is no other place to go.
"I'm furious," said Loretta Cole, a "band parent" for Davis High's marching band, which cannot afford to go to out-of-state competitions. "These kids have worked all summer for this, and now it's gone."
Cole said she and her daughter, Windy Dempsey, who plays in the Davis band, feel betrayed by the U.
"For years, we have supported the U., and now they really deserted us," said Cole, Kaysville. "It's all in the name of money. I'm sure they're going to make big bucks off the Stones."
Davis band leader Steve Hendricks said he's also perplexed by the U.'s decision.
"I have to question a university allowing an educational experience to be pre-empted by a rock 'n' roll concert. I thought universities were for education and not for making money," Hendricks said. "Obviously, I was wrong."
Ted Capener, vice president for university relations, said he feels terrible that the band competition was canceled, but he noted that the university administration acted in good faith.
Capener said the concert was originally scheduled for Oct. 26, but when the Stones scheduled a second show in Oakland, the Salt Lake show had to be rescheduled to Oct. 23 or there would be no show.
Any fears by administrators that the band competition would be negatively affected were quickly allayed by the contract, Capener said. In it, local promoter United Concerts had arranged with the city to allow the band competition to be held at Franklin Quest Field. The administration also thought, if that didn't work, the competition could be rescheduled.
So Tom Nycum, administrative vice president, signed the contract.
But the administration learned later that the baseball park is no place for a competition for marching bands that have prepared drills for football fields. And no other dates at Rice Stadium were suitable.
"We just couldn't do the kind of job we wanted to, so rather than do a half-baked job, decided we needed to cancel," said Carla Ray, secretary for the U. bands office.
Ticket sales to the Stones concert will gross $1.6 million, of which the U. will enjoy a small share. Thousands of additional dollars will come to the U. from parking and concessions sales. (Please see box.)
The band competition, by comparison, makes little money for the U. Sometimes, when inclement weather strikes, it loses money, said Ray.
On the bright side, Capener said, the school's athletics and music programs will receive a large portion of the Stones concert revenue.
The revenue, however, has not been specifically divided up, he said.
the U.'s take
Here's a breakdown of what the University of Utah is expected to net from the Rolling Stones concert:
- Contract: $45,000
- Special tickets: $40,000*
- Parking: $6,000
- Concessions: $15,000
- TOTAL: $106,000
* The university gets to sell on its own about 400 seats in the "scholarship box" on the upper east side of Rice Stadium. These seats will cost $150, of which $25 goes to United Concerts and about $25 goes to pay for the buffet for the ticket-holders, leaving the U. about $100 profit per ticket.