UB Athletics did not provide the Student Association (SA) with any dates to book Alumni Arena for Fall Fest, a UB spokesperson confirmed.
SA initially contacted UB Athletics last May, before athletic events were scheduled, a UB Athletics spokesperson said. Once schedules were released, it became clear Fall Fest could not be hosted in Alumni Arena. Without an indoor venue, SA abruptly announced that it was “unable to host” this year’s concert, in a two-sentence Instagram post on Sept. 26.
“No suitable date existed for the period that SA was looking to hold Fall Fest as there is either a home football game or home volleyball/basketball games each weekend that was requested,” Jon Fuller, a UB Athletics spokesperson, said.
Football games are held at UB Stadium, not Alumni Arena, but Fuller said UB Athletics does not have enough staff to work both events, and that holding Fall Fest in Alumni Arena would have a “significantly disruptive impact to UB Athletics.”
An SA spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment and referred all inquiries about Fall Fest to an email SA President Becky Paul-Odionhin sent to the student body nine days after SA announced Fall Fest’s cancellation.
Fuller said UB Athletics encouraged SA to look into outdoor locations. Fall Fest has been held outside near Baird Point for several years, but SA typically books Alumni Arena as a backup location in case of poor weather.
Paul-Odionhin said in her email that SA decided to cancel Fall Fest because it wasn’t willing to “gamble on only an outdoor location” without Alumni Arena as a backup.
“Without a contingency location, SA runs the risk of losing all that work and about half a million dollars,” Paul-Odionhin said. “As fiduciaries of the Student Association, we cannot betray the trust bestowed on us to utilize the Undergraduate Student Activity Fee responsibly, therefore providing disappointing news at times is the better call when all factors have been considered.”
The 2015 and 2016 Fall Fest shows were held in Alumni Arena, and 2019’s show was held in the Mainstage Theatre at the Center for the Arts. While Alumni Arena has a capacity of 6,783, the Mainstage Theatre seats only 1,748. UB’s football and volleyball teams both played away games the day of the 2019 show.
Issues booking Alumni Arena have previously led to scheduling conflicts, but never a cancellation. In 2017, Fall Fest was held at the same time as the Tailor Made Festival in downtown Buffalo (which featured nationally prominent artists) because it was the only time Alumni Arena was available. That year’s Fall Fest was held outdoors. In 2011, the show was moved from Friday to Thursday because UPD was providing security for a football game that weekend.
SA hosted three Spring Fests in 2022 to make up for the cancellation of 2021’s Fall Fest due to COVID-19. Two of those three fests were held without rain locations.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled Jon Fuller's first name.
Sol Hauser is a news editor and can be reached at email@example.com