The American Family Association will pay LSU an estimated $18,500 to hold a prayer rally, featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, in the campus arena that’s home to the Tiger basketball teams.
The Advocate obtained a copy of the contract between AFA and LSU through a public records request.
According to the contract (PDF), AFA will pay LSU $3,500 for the facility rental, plus $15,000 for facility setup, plus custodial, security, medical and event staffing. The contract notes those prices are estimates and final costs will be reflected in the final invoice.
The 11-page contract includes mostly standard event rental provisions. The prayer rally, dubbed “The Response” is free, so there won’t be normal ticket sales, but typically, the PMAC gets $1 per ticket sold to help with facility renovation and restoration. The university will retain 100 seats at the event to hand out as it pleases. The university gets the full payout if the event is cancelled fewer than 30 days from the Jan. 24 event date. Organizers, who have said the event budget is $500,000, had to secure liability insurance for the facility before the contract could be executed.
News that “The Response” will be held at LSU’s PMAC next month has sparked a backlash from some on campus, particularly due to the AFA’s involvement. The Tupelo, Mississippi-based organization opposes gay marriage and other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights efforts and has been classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As The Advocate first reported, Rolfe McCollister, a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors who also serves as treasurer of Jindal’s campaign committee, played a role in securing the PMAC for the event. E-mails, also obtained through a public records request initially filed last week, show McCollister expressed interest in use of the PMAC for a “Christian group meeting” in August.
McCollister’s involvement in the early planning had not previously been disclosed. Jindal appointed McCollister, publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report, to the LSU board in 2012.