12.8.15

DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE.

The Convocation Center at Northern Illinois University, an attempt to disguise a sports arena as something more, the same way the Milwaukee Public Schools used to call elementary school gyms "multipurpose room," has long been a money suck.   But before it opened as a sports arena,  Bill Cosby came to town as headliner for an opening show during registration week.  Bill who?
Although comedian Bill Cosby opened Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center 13 years ago this month, his photographs are no longer welcome to hang on the building’s walls.

Amid controversial allegations accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting numerous women throughout his career, employees at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center plan to eliminate the celebrity from the venue’s future marketing materials. Autographed photos of past entertainers will continue to be showcased in the “suite section” of the center, but the poster from Bill Cosby’s inaugural performance has been removed, said John Cheney, head of the university’s facilities and event operations.

“Based on his recent history and the current allegations against him, I would guess we would not put it up until that problem is resolved,” Cheney said. “Currently, there are no plans to return it.”

Cosby was the first major act to perform at the university’s Convocation Center during it’s opening weekend in August 2002. Manuel Sanchez, who was then the president of NIU’s Board of Trustees, lauded Cosby for “not using any of the horrible words that it seems so many ‘artists’ feel compelled to use to entertain our children and adults these days,” minutes from a September 2002 NIU Board of Trustees meeting show.

The show attracted an audience of about 7,000, the minutes show, and has been a celebrated part of the Convocation Center’s history ever since.
But the Convocation Center went from the Next Big Thing to an afterthought very quickly. (And it's depressing to see how many of the troubles of 2003 are troubles to this day.)

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