A Good Payday

March 16, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although this year's surplus probably won't top $2 million as it did in 1999, Van Andel Arena is well on its way to having another profitable fiscal year.


Barring any unforeseen circumstances, SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta said this year's surplus should exceed $1.5 million.

And with

DeVos Place
losing less money, the arena surplus won't have to subsidize as much red ink coming from the convention center. That means the Convention and Arena Authority could net about $1 million from the operations of both buildings.

As expected, Machuta said concerts are the driving force behind the arena's revenue. In February, net income averaged more than $10,000 a day. Live shows from John Mayer, Josh Groban and Cirque du Soleil led the building to register a surplus of over $300,000 for the 28-day month.

For the fiscal year, net income stood at $1.3 million at the end of February. Last year, that figure was $507,000 at the same point in time. But in 2006, a fabulous fourth quarter led to a year-end surplus of $1.2 million. Machuta, though, doesn't expect as big of a fourth quarter this year as the arena had last year.

Machuta said the total number of concerts held in the building this year will be down from last year. But, he added, average attendance at the shows has soared this year. In past years, he said about 8,000 attended each concert on average. This year, the average has risen to 10,000 paying customers.

"It's odd, but every concert we've booked is gold," said Machuta.

SMG General Manager and CAA Executive Director Rich MacKeigan said the 25-percent increase in the sale of concert tickets shouldn't be taken lightly.

"That is a big number for us in this market," he said.

Adjusted gross income for the fiscal year was $3.83 million at the end of February and $2.89 million at the same time last year. Even with a flatter fourth quarter expected this year, the last three months won't be without a couple of revenue highlights, as Kenny Chesney has two shows booked in May at the arena.

Chesney played the arena last June and was a big part of that quarter's revenue surge. His combined shows became the arena's highest-grossing event of all-time by grossing more than $1.5 million in just two nights. Almost 24,000 tickets were sold for the two concerts and a similar turnout is expected this year. When Chesney took the arena stage for two nights in 2005, his shows grossed more than $1.3 million. Only two performances last November from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, which grossed $1.4 million, have kept Chesney from owning the arena's two highest-grossing events.

Right now, the country singer claims first and third places in the highest-grossing event derby. But Chesney's seven Van Andel Arena concerts have made him the building's top grossing artist of all-time with a total gross of $4.19 million.

As for

DeVos Place
, the convention center had a surplus of $33,660 for February and had lost $340,000 through the month for the fiscal year.  

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