By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The student senate at the local university is offering a package to benefit the community in two ways - a concert of a nationally touring Eagle tribute band, proceeds from which will pay for a new electronic sign to let people know about campus events.
A subcommittee of the Associated Students of Montana State University-Northern Student Senate has booked Tequila Sunrise to play at the university May 11. Ticket sales will pay for an electronic sign to replace the Northern sign near Kuhr Memorial Park on 11th Street and First Avenue.
Subcommittee member Amy Skryja said the sign will tell everyone on campus and Havre residents about events scheduled at the university.
"They can't say there's nothing to do in Havre," she said.
Subcommittee member Travis Velk said ASMSUN plans to use the sign to advertise events like Northern Showcase performances, Montana Actors' Theatre productions, athletic events and just about anything else happening on campus.
Skryja said the opportunity has her excited for two reasons: the chance to see the Eagles tribute band and because the Student Senate will no longer have to manually change the sign. Changing the sign is time-consuming and difficult, especially if it has to be done in mud, rain or snow, she said.
The location of the new sign, which will have electronic messages that can be programmed in advance from the Student Union Building, has not been decided, student activities director Denise Brewer said.
"I think with administration and student input on it, we'll figure out a good spot for it," she said.
Skryja said the current location is not the best choice because when the university completes its new Applied Technology Center, traffic on First Avenue on campus next to the sign will probably decrease.
She added that the student senate might talk to the city of Havre to see if the sign could be located off campus.
The sign will have a two lines of text on both sides, which will scroll through different messages. It can be programmed for up to a month in advance.
Brewer said the sign will cost about $10,000, and the student senate plans to ask classes at the university's College of Technical Sciences to design and build a framework to hold it. The sign will be purchased over the summer, and should be erected during the next school year, she said.
"It's going to take a while to get in place," she said, adding, "as soon as possible, as far as we're concerned."
Skryja said the students hope to raise enough from the concert to buy the sign, but if it is short, the summer student senate session may be able to make up the difference.
The senate subcommittee has planned to buy a new sign for several years, but the initial estimate was $29,000, so the idea was put on a back shelf.
This spring, everything fell into place. The subcommittee was looking for a tribute band that would be in the area to play a concert at Northern, and found Tequila Sunrise, which will be going to a performance in Boise after the Havre performance.
"They were just looking for a filler," Brewer said. "We got a heck of a deal."
She said the band, which usually charges $6,000 to $10,000 a performance, offered to play at the university for $1,700. The subcommittee decided to hire them and use the profits for the new sign, she said.
The subcommittee members said the band will be a real treat for Eagles fans, at a substantially lower price than the real thing.
Skryja said she was playing some recordings by Tequila Sunrise, and Brewer came by and asked which band she was listening to - the Eagles or the imitators.
"We couldn't tell," she said. "A lot of people don't realize it's Tequila Sunrise."
Velk heard Skryja playing "Hotel California," and complimented her on playing the Eagles, he said.
"She said, 'No, it's Tequila Sunrise,' and my jaw just dropped," he said.
"You can't tell the difference," Brewer added.
But there is a difference in price. The Eagles will perform at MetraPark in Billings on May 27, with ticket prices at $81 and $131.50. The Tequila Sunrise concert, at the Northern gymnasium, will cost $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students.
Tickets for the Tequila Sunrise concert are available at the Student Union Building information desk, Creative Leisure, and at the art fair at the Holiday Village Shopping Center on Saturday.