Arena Revenue Down In January

February 27, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although net income for Van Andel Arena fell far short of the mark in January, the building is headed toward another profitable year as the city continues to be a regional draw.

SMG Marketing Director Lynne Ike said the arena set a new record recently for the fastest-selling concert when the upcoming Kenny Chesney show sold out in just nine minutes. Chesney plays the building on April 1.

“This is the fastest we’ve ever had a show sell clean,” said Ike.

The previous record holder was Elton John, who had a show sell out in 11 minutes.

SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta added that the arena sold 18,000 tickets for a pair of shows in less than a half-hour.

Ike said she reviewed attendance figures for six events held at the arena and DeVos Performance Hall during January and February and found that roughly 45 percent of those who bought tickets for those shows lived outside of metro Grand Rapids.

Those living along the Lakeshore bought 15 percent of the tickets to those events, while residents of the Battle Creek-Kalamazoo area purchased about 10 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of ticket buyers to the Disney on Ice performances were from outside the metro area, with about half of those coming from locales north of Big Rapids. The two Jerry Seinfeld shows drew the second largest percentage of out-of-towners as 47 percent of those who attended the performances were from outside the metro area. In fact, 11 percent were from other states and 6 percent came from Detroit to see the comedian.

“(The result) continues to show a steady number of people continuing to come from the Lakeshore, Kalamazoo and from the north,” said Lew Chamberlin, Convention and Arena Authority board member. “It confirms that we are a regional arena.”

Ike also said 66 contracts for 256 premium seats in the arena expire in September and that 18 agreements covering 60 seats have been renewed.

“We’ve had real good success on renewals,” said Ike.

SMG general manager Rich MacKeigan said up to 30 premium seats were available. All are located in the lower bowl between the blue lines on the hockey surface, and holders of those seats get the first shot to buy tickets to every event at the arena.

Premium-seat contracts run for three, five and seven years, although MacKeigan said a few one-year agreements were available. Costs for the seats aren’t going up.

“The fees will hold constant,” said MacKeigan, who added that five contracts for arena suites also expire in September.

In January, the arena had net income of nearly $47,600, almost $100,000 lower than the projection for the month. Seven months into the fiscal year the arena is showing a surplus of $817,500, about $50,000 below budget and $90,000 behind last year’s pace.

One reason why revenue was down is the arena held seven fewer events than what was projected for January and six less than the building hosted in January 2003.

Another is because the Disney on Ice show closed in February, despite almost all the performances taking place in January, so revenue from it gets added to the February ledger.

SMG estimates the arena should end the fiscal year on June 30 with a surplus of $1.33 million. SMG oversees the daily operations of both the arena and DeVos Place, home to the DeVos Performance Hall.    

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