For just the second time after a two-year pandemic hiatus, Trinity Ball (T-Ball) returned this year facing a number of unique challenges, owing to the loss of its usual main stage area, and the prospect of it being the last to take place on campus for the foreseeable future. In light of these challenges, Trinity Ents has produced a report, based on a survey of over 900 people to “review and evaluate” what makes a successful T-Ball. While the report has not yet been presented to the Trinity Ball Committee for a feasibility review, it makes a wide range of suggestions for improvements and alternative arrangements based on feedback from attendees.
Trinity News has viewed the report and picked out eight key recommendations it makes for a better, safer, and more affordable T-Ball.
Relocate the main stage to the cricket pitch
An almost equal number of respondents to the survey said that they were satisfied with the event’s reduced capacity as those who were dissatisfied, though this reflects a degree of survivorship bias as the vast majority of respondents are people who were successful in getting tickets.
One recommendation for increasing the event’s capacity is the use of College Park cricket pitch, which is used for the annual Summer Series events, with capacity for over 5,500 people. This area could act as a mainstage and greatly increase the event’s capacity. It is likely that this move would also result in less overcrowding in more contained areas of College such as Front Square.
The report also recommends the use of College Park in order to keep T-Ball on campus. The use of this space would negate the impact of current event areas being under construction in the coming years.
Limit the sale of tickets to one per person
The report emphasises the importance of implementing an “efficient and fair ticketing system”. One suggestion for doing this, based on survey responses, is to limit the sale of tickets to one per person. According to the report, this would reduce the risk of tickets being sold at an increased price and reduce the chance of tickets being sold to those outside of the Trinity community.
The report also mentions the possibility of a return to in person ticket sales and criticises Ticketmaster saying: “Ticketmaster does not have a respected reputation in the event industry and has been known for charging extortionate fees to attendees and also to organisers. This is something T-Ball should aim to distance themselves from.”
Enhance the role of security to deal with crowd control
Over 50% of respondents said that they were at least dissatisfied with the event’s crowd control measures. Issues such as crushes are highlighted in the review, which solemnly notes that “if the crowd control practices do not change, there is the potential for a fatality.”
The report recommends ensuring that security is more proactive and intervenes to prevent crushes and other dangerous situations. The report also recommends the use of increased signage and more open spaces to mitigate these dangers
In a comment for Trinity News one student who was involved in a crush said “it was only the actions of other students that prevented me from being seriously injured while security hesitated to act.” The student who experienced a panic attack was eventually hoisted over the barriers by fellow students.
Separate respite areas by issue
Common complaints made by students in relation to respite services included the prioritisation of physical injuries over people experiencing mental health issues.
In order to combat these issues the Ents report recommends a larger respite facility, separated into areas dedicated to individuals’ specific needs. This would ensure that the quiet room remains quiet, that those with physical injuries are treated, and those experiencing mental health issues are given the support they require.
Carry out pre-event communication sooner
The report recommends ensuring that pre-event communication is carried out earlier. This year students were still receiving essential information such as the locations of accessible bathrooms on the day prior to the event, which the report calls “not good enough.”
In order to improve communication the report suggests the use of more varied communication channels and providing information at an earlier date. The review also says that information provided should be clear and detailed.
Use smaller, local food vendors
A common complaint about T-Ball is the price of attending the event. This expense is worsened by what the report describes as “exorbitant” food and drink prices such as €9 pints. It suggests that the likes of food and drinks could be made cheaper through the use of local businesses. The report hopes that this would stimulate the local economy as well as reducing costs for attendees.
It notes: “By bringing in smaller local vendors, a more diverse range of food options can be offered, catering to different dietary preferences and cultural backgrounds.”
Reduce the role of MCD Productions
The report suggests that reducing the role played by promoters MCD Productions in favour of enhancing the organisational role of the Ents Officer could reduce the expense of the event.
Currently, Ents contracts MCD to organise logistics of the event, including the lineup and headline acts. MCD is one of Ireland’s largest event promoters, and manages festivals including Longitude, and multiple venues in Dublin including the Olympia and the Academy
The report does not note the fee paid to MCD for its role in T-Ball. Trinity News has contacted Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) about this.
Prioritise smaller Irish acts in the lineup
The report suggests that the lineup should prioritise the inclusion of a greater number of smaller Irish bands “that are relevant and resonate with students”, noting that this could create “a vibrant and engaging atmosphere that truly captivates and entertains” attendees.
It also notes a lack of “non-male-presenting” acts in this year’s lineup, highlighting a
need to improve diversity in future iterations of the event: “Diversity is a crucial aspect that Trinity Ball should champion, ensuring representation across various genres, genders, and backgrounds.”