Featured (List) Opinion

“The Ties That Bind” with the Springsteen Archives

Monmouth University is set to become “The Promised Land” for Springsteen fans, as it was announced on October 18 they will build a 30,000-square foot building on its small campus by 2026 for the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at a hefty price tag of $45 million.
Not only will the building host a shrine of the Boss’s prized artifacts and exhibits, but it will also feature a 230-seat theater for concerts and lectures. It’s an excellent opportunity to put Monmouth University on the map and keep Springsteen’s legacy alive.

The catch? That $45 million is “The Price You Pay.”

For this huge project to house the memorabilia of Jersey’s prodigal son, the University announced a campaign to raise this money from donations at a press conference with Springsteen in attendance at the Great Hall. As folks cheered for this project, did they not realize a multi-millionaire was standing right before them who could provide this money with the simple signature on a check?

With the 2021 sale of Springsteen’s catalog to Sony of $500 million and his current tour charting $143 million, it’s estimated the rock legend’s net worth is nearly $700 million. Considering this, $45 million to Monmouth should be “Easy Money.” To put the University in a spot where they must push donors and alumni to fund a building for one of the world’s wealthiest musicians is blasphemous.

It could be argued the cost falls on the University if they may have persuaded Springsteen to house his archives here near his hometown, however, the building is entirely dedicated to him and his work. There are no classrooms reported to be included in the massive 30,000-square foot structure; only a theater and exhibits for the Boss’s archives.

What then is the point of having this place crammed into the already tight campus where people struggle to find parking for their classes if it won’t serve as a place for students to take music courses? Why can’t the building be divided in a way where one section of it can serve as an archive to Springsteen while another can hold lecture rooms instead of most of it being for The Boss?

A museum for Springsteen’s work could easily be built in Freehold or Asbury Park instead, where there is much more room. The goal of erecting any structure on a college campus should be intended to hold classes or benefit students whether it be housing, athletics, or nutrition; not for a Center that simply “holds his stuff.”

As a proud alumni and huge Springsteen fan who covered his work as the Entertainment Editor of “The Outlook” for two years and a staff writer the year before that, the Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music is a major disappointment.

For years I had “High Hopes” The Boss and the University would eventually construct a sort of “Springsteen Arts Center,” where music students could have an upgraded facility to learn their crafts. The move especially stings when you consider all the work Bruce and Monmouth have accomplished together in recent years, whether it be the Springsteen on Broadway rehearsals and biography discussion he had at the Pollak Theatre, or gathering rare items to get his archive off the ground. It feels as though we’ve been strung along for years, and the decision has left students and alumni “Out on the Street.”

Before the University breaks ground on the project, they should hold an open forum with students, faculty, and alumni to hear their opinions on the design of the building. With the postponement of his concerts to spring of next year, Springsteen should have enough time to be in attendance as well. It would be reckless for President Patrick Leahy and the University to move forward with this structure without such a meeting where opinions can be expressed by those impacted the most for years to come.
To construct a giant building on a small campus that won’t be funded by one of the world’s richest rock stars to house his memorabilia, which won’t consist of additional rooms for education, is against what Springsteen has preached through his music for decades.

Springsteen is bringing his “Wrecking Ball” to Monmouth and it’s crushing our “Land of Hopes and Dreams.”