CAA Board Approves Upgrades

October 3, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the Convention and Arena Authority agreed last week to spend $4.56 million on capital upgrades to DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena this fiscal year.

That amount easily dwarfs the approximate $200,000 the board appropriated for improvements last year — the final year of construction for the convention center. Last year’s much lower figure is the major rationale behind the much higher figure for this year.

“That is one of the reasons you see the pent-up demand this year,” said SMG General Manager Rich MacKeigan, as he explained the needed upgrades to board members last week. Many of the improvements have been delayed because of the construction project.

This year’s spending amount is the largest in the long-term capital improvement plan that runs through 2016, and the board will find itself with a healthy reserve of $11.57 million for further upgrades at the end of this fiscal year. The reserve is hefty because the DeVos Place construction project came in $12.7 million under budget and those dollars were transferred to the capital improvement account in July.

But the reserve will dwindle to $1.7 million in 2015 and vanish the next year, leaving the account with a $1.1 million deficit if revenue to the fund and disbursements from the fund follow the long-term plan presented to the board last week.

The 10-year capital plan calls for $20.3 million worth of repairs and improvements to both buildings, while revenue to the account has been projected to total $7.6 million. That $12.7 million difference will wipe out the reserve and leave the account $1.1 million short.

“We’re OK through 2015,” said CAA member Birgit Klohs, who also chairs the board’s Finance Committee.

As for this year’s improvement projects, $1.23 million will be spent on 21 projects at the arena and $3.33 million will be spent on a dozen projects at DeVos Place. HVAC improvements at both venues are on tap, as is installation of removable seats in the east tunnel and remodeling of the banquet rooms at the arena.    

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