Arena makes 'best' listings

February 22, 2009
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Customer traffic to Van Andel Arena topped expectations for the final three months of the calendar year, as 208,000 made their way through the building’s turnstiles in October, November and December.

The arena hosted 68 shows during 2008; 10 were sellouts. Two Thunder Nationals performances and concerts from Kid Rock, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Michael Buble, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Police and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all sold out.

That activity resulted in the arena being ranked by Billboard Magazine and Venues Today as the eighth and fourth highest-grossing mid-sized arena, respectively. An international ranking by Pollstar placed Van Andel at the 69th spot among venues of all sizes across the globe. The three use different dates over a year’s time to compile their lists.

“That’s some pretty good recognition for Grand Rapids. Overall, it’s great numbers,” said SMG Marketing Director Lynne Ike.

SMG Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan said the actual ranking of the building isn’t as important as having the arena on the “best” lists year-in and year-out, which the arena has done, including a No. 1 ranking by Billboard for three consecutive years from 1998 to 2000.

“The real audience for these listings is the agents and promoters,” said Lew Chamberlin, chairman of the Convention and Arena Authority’s Operations Committee.

MacKeigan added that ticket buyers have shifted their purchasing behavior at the arena recently. For the past few months, he said more tickets are being sold on the day of an event.

MacKeigan said sales of 100 tickets on a show day were a high number in past years. But recent shows have topped that figure, and 870 tickets were sold for the Motley Crue concert on event day. Crue fans may have also set an arena record for per-capita spending on food and beverages. Those numbers are being tabulated.

Ike said 17 suites are up for renewal at the arena. The waiting list for full or partial leases contains about 60 interested parties.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem with leasing,” she said. “By Sept. 15, we will have them nailed down.”

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