Xavier University’s Convocation Center is increasingly becoming a go-to place for key New Orleans organizations. From Mardi Gras krewe balls to funerals of revered cultural icons, the Convocation Center showcased its versatility in January as a viable community venue.
“We are honored to have these events happening at Xavier and want to do our part to make sure we can continue to provide this service,” said Nannette Smith, the director of university events, who coordinates the Convocation Center’s schedule.avier University’s Convocation Center is increasingly becoming a go-to place for key New Orleans organizations. From Mardi Gras krewe balls to funerals of revered cultural icons, the Convocation Center showcased its versatility in January as a viable community venue.
In January,the Convocation Center hosted two Mardi Gras events. The Krewe Zulu events:Mr. Big Stuff Krewe and Govenors Krewe were held in the Convocation Center last month. Both are normally held at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
“Every year I lead the tramps in for the character parties but this one at Xavier is special,” said Larry Roy, the minister of fun for Zulu. Roy added that after plans had changed about where the party would be held, Xavier was able to accommodate Zulu despite it being short notice.It turned out to be the ideal location to launch the krewe’s festivities at Xavier. It will be centrally featured at Zulu’s Mardi Gras parade with the university’s president Dr. Norman Francis serving as Grand Marshal.
The $25 million, 93,000-square-foot Convocation Center normally hosts only Xavier events, but Smith said the Zulu events are proof the center can accommodate other outside interests. A typical rental would cost about $10,000, Smith said. The money generated from outside events is put back into the general fund so that Xavier students can continue to use the facilities freely, she added.
“Its all about the students. We found this to be a great way to generate money back into the school,” Smith said.
Roughly 3,900 people were in attendance at both events combined making them the biggest outside events to take place at the Convocation Center since it opened its doors. Smith said her team worked endlessly to see that each event was pulled off smoothly from start to finish.
The 10-man Xavier crew spent 12 hours to set up for each event. Xavier provided full service to each rental, which included a complete set-up, breakdown, pipe and drape, campus police and coat-check.
The transformation, Smith said, showed it was possible to convert the center’s gymnasium to adapt to fun festivities and somber occasions.
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