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Athletes relocated to accommodate Christmas Concerts

With the holiday season around the corner, Concordia prepares to host its annual Christmas concert. When looking back through time, the Christmas concert has been a part of Concordia’s history for as long as anyone can remember. This means that the athletic department has been forced out of their home, Memorial Auditorium, for just as long.

“It’s a balancing act, but it’s been that way forever,” said David Klug, football coach and events coordinator of Memorial. “It is a multipurpose building, so from the music perspective they say this is our concert hall, and from the athletic side we are saying this is our home and we are getting kicked out.”

The Christmas concert brings in a large crowd year after year and has taken place in Memorial as far back as people can remember. Memorial is the only area on campus big enough for the mural and large crowd. And according to senior men’s basketball player Matthew Ellingson, it is only fitting to keep the concert in Memorial.

“It is kind of tradition that it’s in there [Memorial],” Ellingson said. “It seats the most people and they have that huge mural so that would be kind of tough to be somewhere else. So if they want to keep it on campus, Memorial is probably the best option.”

As the Christmas concert tradition continues, those sports teams that use Memorial during the winter season are required to give up their “home.”

“I can remember when I was in college Memorial being used, always the week prior to the concert,” said head women’s basketball coach Jessica Rahman. “At that point we didn’t even have another practice facility on campus so we ended up going off campus to local high schools or whatever in order to find a practice facility.”

Since Rahman’s days as a player, Concordia has added Olson Forum, a workout facility with extra workout equipment and four extra tartan basketball courts. While it’s nice to have that extra place to practice during the Christmas concert season, Olson is not reserved strictly for the basketball teams.

“It’s a lot of adjusting and even though Olson Forum is a great place to have on campus for an extra practice facility, it is a very well-used facility,” said Rahman. “Not only are we having practice in there, possibly the men’s team, baseball, any of the off-season teams are doing their pre-season workouts. It’s really a hectic, crazy place down there sometimes.”

Olson has become even busier within the last couple years because of weight issues on the roof of Memorial. To prevent any further damage, a large number of lights, sound boards and baskets had to be removed from the ceiling to reduce the weight the roof was holding. This means for the past couple of years all the lights, sound boards and trusses that were normally able to hang from the ceiling have moved to being set up on the floor, using both courts in Memorial. This doubles the amount of time that the basketball teams are pushed out of their home court.

“Since the roof issue, basketball is out of here for probably a week, eight days,” Klug said. “Before the roof problems they [basketball] could normally practice there up until the chairs were set up and were out of there for four days. Now it’s eight.”

While Christmas concerts bring downsides for the basketball programs, some athletes don’t mind the inconvenience.

“Sometimes we have to practice in Olson, but it isn’t really an issue,” Ellingson said. “There is plenty of courts, plenty of space downstairs. The Christmas concert is a Concordia tradition, so it’s not that big of deal.”

While having the Christmas concert in Memorial may be tradition, one must not forget that Memorial is a sporting event arena.

“This is a gym,” Rahman said. “For as many music shells as you can put up, you can’t really make it into a concert hall.”

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