Team Spirit

October 15, 2004
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Not since Shaq has the Orlando Magic made the back page. The latest take on the DeVos family basketball team comes from the Orlando Sentinel, saying a decision to sell the team may come within 24 months.

Rich DeVos, during speeches in recent months in Grand Rapids, has made no secret of his, umm, disappointment with the business and philanthropic community in Orlando, especially compared to the public/private partnerships that have fueled so much building in the downtown. He often points to those partnerships as unique to Grand Rapids. At issue in Orlando is a new arena for the Magic, to replace a 16-year-old facility. The Orlando Sentinel reports (or purports) that the knock out on such a deal in Florida has been the want of a new arena “paid mostly by the public, through a bed tax, butting heads with the tourism industry” (and it suggests the Magic don’t deserve a new arena, based on its league-worst 21-61 record for the last season).

The Sentinel quotes “the son-in-law of billionaire Rich DeVos” as saying that a new $250 million arena that provides revenue-producing amenities is key to keeping the Magic in Orlando, or allow it to be pirated by cities with blueprints for new arenas. Apparently Bob Vander Weide, Magic president, is heading into round two with the philanthropic community to reassert the Grand Rapids story of economic dominoes. He also says the family isn’t interested in keeping the Magic if the team is moved.

Is that why wife, Cheryl De Vos Vander Weide, is rumored to be house hunting in GR?

  • More numbers: In last year’s GRBJ ranking of Area Health Science Programs, GrandValleyStateUniversity was by far the largest of West Michigan’s health education providers, with 2,344 students to Baker College of Muskegon’s 830.

Baker had seen a significant increase in enrollment last year, with only 601 health science students in 2001. Grand Rapids Community College had experienced a similar growth spurt, jumping from 499 students in 2001 to 712 in 2002. Both schools were still far behind the much larger GVSU program.

This year, however, the GVSU lead is significantly less.

With only 1,057 health science students enrolled in 2003, GVSU apparently lost over half of its health science students in only a year’s time.

But upon further investigation, there was no Laker exodus.

In 2003, enrollment was tallied by the office of P. Douglas Kindschi, GVSU dean of science and mathematics.

This year, the GVSU marketing department provided the results.

According to Carol Bale, GVSU advertising and identity manager, the enrollment for 2002 was actually 1,019 — representing a small growth rather than a massive loss.

“I don’t know what they could have counted that we didn’t,” Bale said. “And the only person who would know that is on sabbatical right now.”

The final number on both surveys was achieved through combining the enrollments of the College of Nursing, Department of Biomedical Science and College of Health Professions.

  • Sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine’s 19th Annual Comedy Joke Off set some new highs and some new lows last Wednesday with a packed house at The Stack in American Seating Park.

The highest of the highs came in a Joke Off record $10,000 raised for the benefit of Indian Trails Camp, eclipsing last year’s $8,100 donation.

As for the lows … well, it was definitely “an uncensored night of comedy.”

WOOD TV-8’s Terri DeBoer, TV wife to Joke Off emcee Brian Sterling, delivered shock and awe with some creative use of a microphone stand that won’t be seen any time soon on the morning weather report.

After explaining how much she liked appearing in public “because everyone always says how much prettier, younger and thinner I look in person,” DeBoer told a story of how difficult it can be for local media personalities to sample the newest flavor of vodka — or the newest 16.

“I was walking around with this vodka in my cart,” she explained. “And I kept hearing, ‘Well, that’s why she never gets the weather right.’”

Independent judges from the Coffee Dunkers of America, Grand Rapids Chapter awarded the meteorologist runner-up honors, while last year’s winner, Grand Rapids Magazine’s own “Metro Male” columnist Dwight Hamilton defended his crown.

Hamilton again won at the expense of his wife and new daughter, but this time he brought out the comedic big guns, Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton

A late addition to the line-up, Business Journal contributor Mike Marn took home third place with a routine aimed almost entirely at downtown Grand Rapids.

“Everyone’s wondering what they’re going to put up where that City Centre parking ramp used to be,” Marn said. “I’d think it’d be obvious, the thing is right across the street from the police station — it’s going to be a three-story donut shop.”

Marn also poked fun at gun-wielding, bow-tie wearing jewelry store owner Randall Dice, putting the epic story of the Herkner’s Jewelers’ cowboy to music. Marn’s prototype bullet hole bumper stickers also were a hit.

Skyview Traffic’s Kevin Richards and WMFN AM 640’s John “The Hoss” Perry also participated in the competition.

If only Perry, also of WZZM “13 On your Sidelines,” were to cover high school sports in the same character as his stand-up.

“Three guys walk into a bar,” to paraphrase one Perry joke. “The @#$% from #$%^ on the *&^% went to the #$% and #$$^ the @#$@. Then, #^% a #$$% very %$#ing #$%^ — $%^#, @#$%, and #@$%. Oh, @#$#.”

National touring comedian and Grand Rapids native David Dyer closed out the show as headliner with some reflections on his hometown, including not-fit-for-print insights into the Michigan accent and Grand Rapids’ weather ball.

“You guys still have On Target Weather right?” Dyer asked a group from WZZM. “Do you guys ever hit the freaking target? There have got to be arrows all over the place.”

Dr. Grins regular Joe Schmoel was also on the bill.    

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