DeVos Place Getting New Show

October 30, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city’s convention center ended the first quarter of the fiscal year with expenses topping revenue by $451,542.

But DeVos Place lost only $18,336 in September, and that was largely because an RV show that was anticipated for the building didn’t materialize. The center lost $151,423 in July and $281,783 in August, and is on track to lose $950,000 for the fiscal year.

“There still is plenty of work to be done. I don’t think there is any reason to set off an alarm,” said SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta.

Machuta said the convention business for the second quarter should match the revenue DeVos Place took in last year for the same period and might top that number, even without the bi-annual woodworkers meeting that pumped up the event income last December.

For the first quarter, Machuta said event revenue fell below expectations because there was less spending by groups that met in the building. Conventions accounted for 65 percent of the event income in the first quarter, while a grouping of “other” meetings was a distant second at 18 percent.

“The forecast shows revenue holding consistent with budget through the balance of the fiscal year, and overall the facility (is) falling a little short of budget,” said Machuta.

The third quarter will feature the consumer shows that annually fill DeVos Place for the better part of three months, and a new one will make its debut in January. The first Grand Rapids Camper, Travel and RV Show will be held Jan. 18-21. The show will be sponsored by the Grand Rapids RV Dealers Association and presented by Showspan Inc.

“We’ve long wanted to add a pure RV show to our successful lineup of major consumer shows at DeVos Place,” said Adam Starr, show manager for Showspan.

Starr said all 200,000 square feet of exhibit space has been sold for the show, which will have 13 dealers and more than 100 lines of motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, truck campers and folding camping trailers in the building. The RV dealers association has held smaller shows at smaller sites for years.

“We needed a bigger venue,” said Dennis Grossenbacher, association president.

To assist clients and visitors, to the building, SMG recently added a new help desk in the Grand Gallery portion of DeVos Place. SMG has also moved the ticket sales counter from the front of the building to the Grand Gallery.

SMG’s Todd Johnson said the desk will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and during show hours.

“It will be staffed anytime there will be a show, weekends and holidays,” said Johnson.

The desk is portable and can be moved. It also has a laptop computer for public use.

“I think this will be helpful,” said Lew Chamberlin, Convention and Arena Authority board member, of the information desk. “Even though we have good signage, it will help to have a person to go to and ask for help.”    

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