Arena Lounge Almost Ready

April 16, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Van Andel Arena's newest addition is set to open for business on Saturday, almost two weeks ahead of the original projection.

A few test runs have been held in the new Huntington Club, including a media preview, and a soft opening or two could be held this week.

"It's coming along wonderfully, and it looks spectacular," said Rich MacKeigan, SMG general manager of the arena and

DeVos Place

"We're probably looking at April 21 as being the first event that it will be available for, and we've got two or three soft-opening type of things."

The Grand Rapids Rampage host the Chicago Rush in an Arena Football League game Saturday night. Premium seat holders and suite owners will have the first opportunity to christen the lounge, which was designed with them in mind.

The bar, which seats about 100, cost about $350,000 to build. It replaces a banquet room on the arena's lower level, a room that was often used for storage. A removable wall separates the Huntington Club from two other banquet rooms. The wall allows the lounge to expand for parties, dinners and receptions. The general public can rent the lounge on non-event nights.

Revenue from the bar will go to the Convention and Arena Authority and SMG. The CAA will get 30 percent of the first year's take, an amount expected to range from $48,000 to $110,000.

SMG Food and Beverage, which has operated the concessions and catering businesses at the arena since July, has created a separate entrée menu for the lounge. The hope is the new lounge will help pump up the arena's catering receipts through private parties.

"I think there is an opportunity for this to grow our catering numbers, because it will be the new spot to go. But the key is, that's not the principle use of this space. The principle use of this space is for our premium-seat holders and suite holders," said MacKeigan.

Reservations are required. The Huntington Club will open two hours before an event and stay open after its conclusion. The lounge's décor is sports-oriented and features the arena's two tenants: the Grand Rapids Griffins and Rampage. A 12-foot-long mural covers the east wall, and large TVs are situated throughout the club. The Huntington Club will be closed on nights when no events are held in the arena, unless someone rents it for a private function.

"Access to Huntington Club will provide added value for these guests, as we continue to explore ways to upgrade their experience of attending an event at our venue," MacKeigan said.

Huntington Bank purchased the naming rights for the next three years. Pioneer Construction built the lounge.

"It's almost done," said MacKeigan of the bar's construction. "Our challenge now is to make sure we get it stocked up properly, get the staff trained and get the kitchen trained — that kind of stuff."    

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