Sunday, October 24, 2021

Band finds itself bowl bound

December 7, 2001

After days of uncertainty, university officials confirmed Thursday that the 300-member Spartan Marching Band will travel to the Silicon Valley Football Classic in San Jose, Calif.

“We are pleased that the band will be going to the bowl,” MSU President M. Peter McPherson said. “Obviously, the members of the band want to do this, and after looking through the figures we are pleased that they would go.”

University spokesman Terry Denbow said the full band will travel to the game, which pits MSU against No. 19 Fresno State on Dec. 31.

“The bottom line is that it’s an investment to help the momentum of the football program,” Denbow said. “Plus it will give the university a significant presence in California - a state that has plenty of MSU alumni.”

Band director John Madden asked band members to refrain from talking to the media and was not available for comment Thursday.

The football team will arrive in San Jose for its first practice at San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium on Dec. 26. The band will arrive two days later and stay through Dec. 31.

Although the school expects to lose money on the trip - similar to the 1997 Jeep Aloha Bowl, which cost the university $310,000 - MSU is willing to foot the bill for the band to participate, Denbow said.

“I expect that there will be some losses in connection to this bowl, which will be incurred by the athletic department,” McPherson said. “The athletic department budget at Michigan State is separate from the rest of university. I think it is important to maintain that separation. That is why financial issues are always difficult.”

MSU trustees Robert Weiss and Dee Cook said they support the decision to have the entire band travel to the game, despite budget constraints.

“The band is part of presenting the university in the best light,” Weiss said. “We have been to bowls where the band has been involved, and they make the difference.”

Significant cutbacks in the number of school officials and guests traveling to the bowl are helping MSU stretch its bowl budget to afford to send the band.

“I am thrilled because the band is part of the whole experience - they add a lot of color, and it is a great experience for them,” Cook said. “I’m happy they have been able to work the numbers and limit the official party to the point where the band will go.”

But MSU is still preparing for a profit loss, despite the fact it will earn $750,000 for playing in the game and receive some financial help from the Big Ten, the university announced Thursday.

The conference said it will give the university $273,000 to help pay for the $300,000 corporate sponsorship fee MSU agreed to pay when it accepted the bowl bid, Denbow said.

Five other schools - Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Iowa - will also make bowl appearances this year, and Denbow said each will receive financial help from the Big Ten.

MSU also has to pay $250,000 in ticket fees for the 5,000 tickets allotted to the athletic department for sale.

But in the future, sending the band to major events may not be as costly. The MSU School of Music and the athletic department have developed a partnership to begin a fund-raising plan for future band travel, Denbow said.

Staff writer Eric Morath contributed to this report.

Eric Lacy can be reached at lacyeric@msu.edu.

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