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Fifth Third Ballpark aims to increase capacity for concert-goers

July 6, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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West Michigan Whitecaps Fifth Third Ballpark
The West Michigan Whitecaps, the Detroit Tigers' Class A affiliate, play their home games in Comstock Park at Fifth Third Ballpark, which has a seating capacity of 9,500. Photo via

Fifth Third Ballpark may be increasing its capacity by thousands to host a superstar rapper from Detroit.

An application was submitted to Plainfield Charter Township to potentially host a large-scale concert on Sept. 24 at Fifth Third Ballpark by Denny Baxter, owner of Blue Cap Entertainment and part owner of the West Michigan Whitecaps. Baxter told the Business Journal the consideration of hosting larger concerts is just an extension of the organization's desire to utilize the Fifth Third Ballpark land better.

The application went in front of the Plainfield Charter Township board on June 28, and the application suggests the artist could be Eminem.

No action is requested in the application, and it is meant to serve as a discussion starter within the community. Baxter told the Business Journal the organization is going through a due diligence process to ensure they "talk and think through any issues that might come up."

Baxter also said the Sept. 24 date is one that is open, but the ability to host larger concerts would help in years to come as well. 

In a related letter to West Michigan Whitecaps Director of Facility Events Mike Klint, who’s also a co-applicant to the township, Baxter asked for his consideration.

“(Eminem) has never played in the West Michigan marketplace, and I believe this could be a great opportunity to showcase the ballpark and the community with our ability to host and produce a large-scale event,” Baxter wrote. “By using the entire field, I believe we can potentially serve 16,000 fans for this event.”

Fifth Third Ballpark, which is owned by the Whitecaps, has hosted a variety of concerts in the past, some with as many as 8,500 people in attendance, according to Baxter’s letter to Klint.

Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids currently holds about 12,000 spectators for concerts.

A large-scale concert would be in accordance with previous township limitations on event sound, security and curfews, Baxter wrote.

The application was accompanied by a letter of support from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, stating it would be “comfortable with providing traffic control, as well as security for this event.”

Baxter wrote a large-scale event would be good for both the Whitecaps and the community. 

“If we can pull this together, we would become the largest-capacity venue in West Michigan, and I can think of no better organization than the Whitecaps to handle such an opportunity and responsibility,” he wrote.

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