Cost of controlling Blarney Blowout calculated at $500,000 by University of Massachusetts Amherst

Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AMHERST — What does it cost to keep 22,000 students under control?

On the weekend of Blarney Blowout, the University of Massachusetts Amherst managed it for about $500,000.

Of that total, $305,000 went to pay artists Juicy J, Kesha and Ludacris at a Mullins Center concert attended by 5,200 students, who received free tickets from the university, UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said in a statement.

Other expenses included an estimated $20,000 in police mutual aid, $3,800 for parking staff and signs and $3,000 for ambulance staffing, Blaguszewski wrote. Costs for dining services and UMass police are still being calculated, he added.

That’s on top of $160,000 for a report by former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis with recommendations following last year’s Blarney Blowout.

At the same time, some might tally the cost of the report under those associated with 2014, when police arrested 55 people and released tear gas to control crowds.

University officials commissioned the report following the damage to the institution’s reputation and the property nearby.

In the statement Monday, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Enku Gelaye said that the university acted on many of the recommendations suggested by the Davis report, resulting in a successful event Saturday.

Nine students were arrested, and confrontations between police and students were minimal.

“We invested significant time and resources up front with a focus on prevention to address a long-standing pattern of student disturbances,” Gelaye is quoted as saying in the statement. “This is an investment in student success. We are at the beginning of this process and we will be steadfast in our efforts. But we are on the right path as an engaged community.”

Gelaye extended thanks to students, who she said “rose to the occasion,” demonstrating respectful and responsible behavior.

“They played an active role in the planning of Saturday’s events and their efforts really paid off,” Gelaye said in the statement.

The up-front investment contrasted with other costs from the 2014 Blarney Blowout event, which included property damage, injuries, legal costs and loss of business downtown, she said.

In police overtime alone, the 2014 event cost $21,000, with an additional $2,000 in pepper spray pellets. Three of the larger housing complexes north of campus — Puffton Village, Townehouse of Amherst and Brandywine Apartments — spent $10,000 in 2014 to hire additional staff and security.

Stolen street signs, a felled 25-foot streetlight and smashed car roofs tallied up to thousands of dollars in damages in 2014. It took 20 hours of work for trash to be removed from the grounds in Brandywine Apartments.

Those were costs avoided in 2015 and, Gelaye hopes, in years to come.

“We are all committed to prevent that from happening in the future,” Gelaye said.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at


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