Curtain drops for HoCo concert

After occurring for two years, the Homecoming concert tradition will not continue this year.

The future looks bleak for events such as the Homecoming Concert and Spring Farewell, held on Rollins Street in front of the MU Student Center, due to changes in Columbia’s public transportation.

“It has to do with the new COMO Connect — the new bus lines — and since Rollins and Hitt are both hubs, the main intersections for the new bus routes and the drop off is the Student Center,” said John Murray, senior director of auxiliary and service operations.

As the setup for these events often require the road to be shut down the day of the event, bus service on Rollins is affected. With the introduction of COMO Connect, the city chose to limit the number of road closures per year.

According to city officials, the decision was a collective effort, made with input from MU student groups, the University of Missouri Police Department, MU Parking & Transportation and others.

“The city is trying to present the best service to the students that they can,” John said.

The tradition of having a Homecoming concert was started two years ago.

The Department of Student Activities landed Imagine Dragons for the first concert, and had about 2,000 people in attendance. Last year, DSA saw a decrease in turnout, with 1,100-1,200 people showing up for Youngblood Hawke.

“The Homecoming concert was a fairly new tradition; we had only done it for the last two years and I think it doesn’t have as much traction as our other events,” MSA Director of Student Activities Chelsea Fricker said. “The Midnight Barbecue has been going on for a long time and it is a very heavily attended event, and is done as a huge service for our campus.”

Early last semester, Fricker said she talked with Kathy Murray, associate director of Student Life, and Aly Friend, coordinator for student programs at the Mizzou Alumni Assocation, about the homecoming concert from a budgetary standpoint, going back and forth on whether or not the concert would happen.

During that time, DSA was in the process of planning the Spring Farewell block party when they received their street closure request back from the city. While the closure was granted, Fricker said, there was a note at the bottom stating this would be the last event the city would allow Rollins to be shut down for.

“That was obviously a big red flag for us because we normally close the street three times a year,” Fricker said.

Every year, DSA would request to shut down Rollins for the Midnight Barbecue, the Homecoming concert and the Spring Farewell party.

MU and city representatives sat down in March and negotiated closing down Rollins for events. While DSA wanted to keep all of their events, they said they decided to fight for the Midnight Barbecue the most during negotiations, since it’s the largest of the three and has been an annual event for over 10 years.

“The first thought we had was obviously the Midnight Barbecue and what was going to happen with that, because that is an event that regularly attracts 15,000 to 16,000 students,” Fricker said. “There isn’t really a venue on campus that would be able to fit that capacity, and it is now just known for being on Rollins Street.”

The Homecoming concert also always occurred the same night as House Decorations.

Murray said House Decorations typically has the connotation as being for Greek students, so this was a way to get more students involved in Homecoming. Rollins was then decided as the Homecoming concert location so that both events would be located on the same street.

With Jesse Auditorium closed and Missouri Theatre completely booked, there was no other location available for the concert this year.

As of right now, there is nothing planned in lieu of the Homecoming concert. With so many events going on, Murray said she feels that not having the concert will not be a huge loss.

“We have so many things going on for Homecoming,” John said. “Some of our students are just exhausted, and you know that is not to anyone’s benefit. There are so many things to do, sometimes you try to put too many things into a bucket, and it doesn’t work out.”

DSA is not done fighting, though. Fricker said more conversations are to come next semester when Spring Farewell rolls around. DSA has been trying to grow the party to the magnitude of the Midnight Barbecue.

With the money saved from not holding a Homecoming concert, Fricker said she has high hopes for the future.

“Hopefully, this turns out to be a positive thing and we are able to bring bigger and better performers because we have the extra money to work with now,” she said.

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