CAA Liability Premium Falls

April 29, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — For the first time in four years, the cost of a liability policy for the directors and officers of the Convention and Arena Authority went down.

Members approved the renewal last week of a $5 million policy with a $15,000 deductible for $10,268. That same policy from St. Paul Travelers Insurance Co. cost the board $13,200 last year, or 22 percent more than the new one.

The renewed policy went into effect on April 25.

The savings on the liability premium comes at a time when board members are looking for another source of revenue to cover capital improvements that will be needed for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place in the coming years. An early estimate places that figure at $2.2 million annually, and at $2.6 million if DeVos Performance Hall is added to the equation.

To that end, board member Gary McInerney has been looking into potential new sources for the CAA, and he submitted four possibilities last week.

  • Collect a fee from every ticket Ticketmaster sells for events at both buildings. The contract the CAA has with Ticketmaster expires next year and perhaps a new agreement could include that fee.

  • Hold an annual fundraising event, perhaps in partnership with Grand Action and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

  • Host a wine and food fair in conjunction with local restaurants and wine distributors.

  • Explore further advertising opportunities at both buildings that could generate more revenue to the board.


McInerney added that he has been working closely with SMG General Manager Rich MacKeigan on ways the board can increase revenue and that he would provide more information soon.

At last week’s meeting, the board asked James Koslosky, director of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, what it would take to land a new low-cost airline in the market.

“It takes a very big check,” he answered.

Koslosky explained that a community has to “buy” an airline and cover any losses it may incur. He said federal law prevents the airport from doing that. But GFIA can give a new airline six months worth of free landing fees and help with its marketing campaign to draw customers.

“It’s no different than attracting a new business to the area,” said CAA member Birgit Klohs, president of the economic development agency The Right Place Inc. “It’s a ‘show me the check.’”

With 2 million passengers arriving and departing from GFIA last year, Koslosky said the market was “prime” for a low-cost airline. He also said that the aeronautics board was putting together a financing plan for a new parking ramp that is likely to cost at least $60 million to build. Koslosky said he hopes to start construction on the facility late next year and have it finished in two years.

“We will need the parking by then,” he said.    

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