CAA's Million-Dollar March

April 29, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the Convention and Arena Authority don’t only like March because it carries the green promise of an upcoming spring. They also like the month because it tends to spring more than a million in greenbacks their way.

DeVos Place
and Van Andel Arena had a combined income of $1.18 million in March. In March 2004, that total topped $1.05 million. And March is so much more popular with board members than January, when the ground was white and the ledger was red. The total take for both buildings in January was only $685,000 and the deficit was $107,317.

In March, though, arena revenue almost topped the January total for both buildings. The arena took in $654,336 from just 15 events in March — for an average of $43,622 per event — and about $41,000 more than it did in March 2004.

The convention center pulled in $526,175 for March — its second-largest monthly total since opening in December 2003. That’s about $82,000 more than in March of last year.

“When that building is running, you can really feel an energy there,” CAA member Lew Chamberlin said of

DeVos Place

The arena recorded a surplus of $330,479 for the month and

DeVos Place
had one of $92,016, the second consecutive monthly surplus for the convention center.

“It’s been a very busy month. I think the number of shows held in the building will exceed the budget,” SMG Director of Sales Steve Miller said of

DeVos Place

The March figures were released last week and those numbers mark the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year for both buildings.

The arena has $993,797 of a projected $1.43 million surplus in hand at the three-quarter mark, with a few concerts still to play the building before the year ends on June 30.

“The summer looks somewhat slow, but the end of the fiscal year looks good,” said Rich MacKeigan, SMG general manager. “I think we’re going to end up with 25 concerts this year and that is an extremely high number.”

“March started and ended very well,” added SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta. “I don’t think we will get back to our original budget, but we should come within 50 to 60 grand of it.”

But the convention center is $654,830 in the red on its way to a projected loss of $1.12 million for the fiscal year. If history holds true to form, the building will reach that mark, as

DeVos Place
lost more than $520,000 during April, May and June of last year. But Machuta said
DeVos Place
was performing better than expected when its initial shortfall was set at $1.39 million.

Consumer shows have brought the most people and most event revenue to

DeVos Place
. More than 200,000 attended the 50 show-days held in the building and those visitors accounted for 43 percent of all who had visited the building through March.

These shows, mostly produced by local firms such as Showspan Inc. and Kohler Expo, also raised nearly 35 percent of the center’s total event income through nine months, and did so over what amounts to a fairly short 12-week period.

The shows have earned $888,421 of the building’s $2.56 million of total event income at the three-quarter mark, for an average of $17,768 for each show day.

Conventions and tradeshows have generated nearly a third of the building’s event revenue at $823,324, but have done so over 83 days for an average of $9,920 per day, and have drawn 16 percent of all the traffic to DeVos Place during the fiscal year so far.

Shows at DeVos Performance Hall have been worth $479,332 to the building’s event income — for almost 19 percent of the total event receipts — and have drawn nearly 29 percent of all the visitors to the building. With 106 events held there so far — a few more than projected for the three-quarter mark — the 2,400-seat hall is worth $4,522 in event revenue per performance.

Machuta pointed out that rental income at

DeVos Place
has topped $1.5 million for the fiscal year and has exceeded the budgeted figure by roughly $50,000 through three quarters.

DeVos Place
,” he said, “continues to perform better than budget.”    

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