University holds high hopes for hosting pageant

Photo courtesy of Carl-Frederick Francois/ the Beacon

Photo courtesy of Carl-Frederick Francois/ The Beacon

Natalie Alatriste/ Staff Writer

This weekend, FIU will host the Miss Universe pageant at the U.S. Century Bank Arena, where the 2014 winner will be crowned in front of a global audience.

Although Donald Trump, the owner of the pageant, is hosting his guests and multiple events in the City of Doral and the Trump National Doral Miami, a focal point for the pageant, the actual pageant will be held at the University.

In the search for a venue large enough for the event, FIU was the chosen location.

Sandra Gonzalez-Levy, senior vice president of External Relations, said that the arena will be closed to University students during the week of the pageant.

Since the Miss Universe pageant is an internationally recognized event, President Mark B. Rosenberg hopes to gain recognition on a global scale, according to the minutes of a Faculty Senate meeting.

In the minutes, Rosenberg commented that global recognition at this level is difficult to find.

“We have chosen to invite representatives from more than 130 media outlets from around the world to tour our campus and learn more about our University,” Gonzalez-Levy said. “FIU will be mentioned at least three times during the telecast of the final competition.”

FIU will benefit from hosting the pageant in a few ways.

According to Gonzalez-Levy, FIU students are interning with the Miss Universe Organization.

Scholarship opportunities have also become possible for students. The First Generation Scholarship Fund, an opportunity only for FIU students, has raised $140,000 for the scholarship, $75,000 of which came from the Miss Universe Organization.

Gonzalez-Levy said the state of Florida may potentially match this fund.

FIU Athletics is also expecting to gain revenue through concessions, parking and ticket sales, which is projected to be between $50,000-$70,000.

But is the pageant worth the publicity?

The event will be costly for both FIU and the City of Doral, with Doral paying the pageant roughly $2.5 million.

While FIU originally estimated to spend only $70,000, that figure has increased.

According to the Miami Herald and a public expense report, FIU will spend approximately $544,073 to host the pageant. This includes arena roof work for cameras and lights during the broadcast.

In a memo cited by The Miami Herald, due to the costs of accommodating the pageant FIU will “likely scrap” the new bleacher project and the softball/golf locker room facility project, which were both intended to help expand and strengthen FIU’s Athletic Department.

Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia was recently quoted in The Miami Herald ensuring FIU will make its money back.

Students and faculty expressed their opinions on the pageant being hosted on University grounds.

Their reactions have not been positive.

In a recent article in The Miami Herald, FIU Associate Professor Susanne Zwingel expressed her disappointment of FIU hosting the pageant in a letter she sent to President Mark B. Rosenberg.

Zwingel said FIU should defy the status quo by showing people worldwide that the University stands for something larger than just judging a woman by her looks.

Francisco Ripoll, a junior broadcast journalism major agrees with Zwingel.

“I don’t think hosting the pageant is as beneficial as it may seem,” Ripoll said. “It can cause controversy on how FIU views women and I just don’t think the spending is worth it. It’s sad that FIU would contribute so much money to fix something for this event.”

The final portion of the competition will take place on Sunday, Jan. 25, at 8:00 p.m. EST. Tickets for the final show are sold out.

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