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Athletics opens Cameron for concert

The Dead, Dylan and the Doobie Brothers have all jammed there. Santana, the Allman Brothers and the Boss have packed the house. And Feb. 7, another band will add its name to the list of those who have played to thousands of screaming students in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

As part of "K-ville Kares," a benefit event for the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, the basketball stadium will open its doors to its first major concert since 1996. Organizers have yet to select a band or artist, but said the size of Cameron will enable them to bring in an act that typically asks for between $30,000 and $60,000 per show.

More than 4,000 tickets will be offered for between $25 and $40, with a fundraising goal of $50,000. Campus Council, Duke Student Government, the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Duke University Union are co-sponsoring the event, which is their first-ever joint venture.

"We were able to find a space where it could fit in," said Director of Athletics Joe Alleva, who gave the go-ahead this week after meeting with organizers before fall break. "It seems like the whole University community is behind this project, and we thought it would be nice to try to make it happen."

In years past, availability of the stadium, protection for its new floor and the overall expense were all hurdles in booking Cameron. University officials are calling the February concert an "experiment" to determine if such events can be profitable and if Cameron can be protected.

"The acoustics in Cameron are bad, and it's an enormous expense to cover the floor and protect it," Alleva said. "This is a basketball venue and this is basketball season. I have no problem with an event being in here after basketball season.... I am not opposed to having concerts, but I have to protect the basketball programs."

Many of the logistics of putting together the concert have yet to be worked out. Organizers need to obtain corporate and University sponsors, find a place to store the more than $30,000 worth of plywood needed to cover the floor, and arrange security, ticket distribution and concessions.

But the possibility of a concert in Cameron and the potential donation to the cancer program motivated students to try to surmount those obstacles.

"This event is very close to my heart," said senior Amy Unell, who has been volunteering at the support program since her freshman year and thought up the idea of such a benefit two years ago. When Unell was a senior in high school, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she has survived the illness. The cancer program provides support for patients in treatment--including counseling, orientation for chemotherapy, refreshments and a wig program.

"I wanted to create an event that would be a campus-wide benefit to support this program," Unell added. "We really felt that there should be a service event tied into K-ville because K-ville is such an awesome tradition and creates such unity. This is a way that we can give back."

The concert will occur on a Friday, two days after the men's basketball team plays at home against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill--the first tenting game of the season--and two days before Clemson comes to town. This gap will allow the event to set up Thursday afternoon and be completely struck by the Blue Devils' 10 a.m. practice Saturday.

Since Duke hosts Maryland Feb. 19 for the season's other tenting game, the concert will occur when Krzyzewskiville is in full swing, said Head Line Monitor Jeremy Morgan, a senior.

Union President Jesse Panuccio said that if this winter's concert is a success, the Union will pursue other concerts in the future, probably in the basketball off-season. Currently, Page Auditorium, with a capacity of about 1,150, is the University's largest indoor venue. To bring a big name there, tickets would need to cost well over $50, said Panuccio, a senior. Cameron's ticket prices will be lower, and its larger size will allow a majority of students to attend.

"I think it's a win-win situation," said Rachel Schanberg, founder of the cancer program. "Everyone is going to have a great time, make a lot of money and help the patients."