June 16, 2011; Source: Star Tribune | The Say No to the Basilica Block Party Facebook campaign has over 6,000 followers who say they plan to boycott the annual block party in July. Event organizers counter that the effort will have little effect. Sponsors and the bands scheduled to perform at the event are caught in the crossfire.
The Basilica Block party raises funds for the restoration and upkeep of the Basilica of St. Mary’s in Minneapolis and supports the St. Vincent de Paul outreach program. Between 20,000 and 30,000 tickets were sold in 2010. Ticket sales this year are at least equal if not more than last year.
Boycott supporters are urging people not to attend to protest the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’s support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Officials from the basilica have stated publicly that none of the money raised at the event will go to the archdiocese.
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Many of the bands in this year’s lineup have received Facebook posts asking them to back out. All are still committed to play. A local concert promoter, Sue McLean, sent a letter to band representatives, explaining the controversy and emphasizing that the funds will help people in need as well as the preserving the historic basilica. “I don’t think what happens at the Basilica Block Party is going to have an impact on the higher theology and policies of the Catholic Church,” noted McLean.
The local radio station in Minneapolis, a main co-sponsor, has received emails asking them to reconsider their suport. Other sponsors, including an auto dealership, national airline and media company have also received emails and posts. All are still fully committed to the event.
The two-day event starts on July 8. With three weeks to go, there 's still time for both the Facebook campaign to generate support for a boycott and Basilica Block friends to get the word out that this event is helping local community programs. Will it be Block Party or boycott?—Nancy Knoche