Showspan Goes On

October 21, 2002
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The operations committee of the Convention and Arena Authority settled a six-month dispute last week by awarding the sixth annual Michigan International Auto Show to Showspan Inc., the Wyoming-based company that has produced the show since its inception in 1998.

The Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association challenged Showspan for the rights to the 2004 show, likely to be an exhibit of new and unique vehicles that will be held at the Grand Center. A falling-out with Showspan after January’s event prompted the association to hire Liberty Productions to help create the yearly auto showcase.

But the operations committee unanimously agreed to award the 2004 show to Showspan based on a recommendation the committee asked SMG General Manager RichMacKeigan to make.

MacKeigan told committee members on Wednesday that he was comfortable with either group producing the show. But he felt that recent history and industry standards gave the edge to Showspan, a firm that has produced a variety of consumer shows across the state for many years.

Operations Committee Chairman LewChamberlin remarked that his group’s role was to oversee and guide events at the Van Andel Arena and Grand Center, and not micro-manage shows at the buildings. He also said CAA Chairman JohnLogie, mayor of Grand Rapids, told him that the committee’s decision would be the board’s decision. The CAA board meets on Wednesday.

Chamberlin added that the car dealers could appeal the committee’s ruling with the full board, and that the process used to sort out this dispute would also be used to decide others.

Showspan has the rights to produce the 2003 show from a five-year agreement it signed with the CAA, a contract that expires after the next show. The 2004 event also will be held in January.

The decision does not prevent the car dealers from working with Showspan on the auto show, nor does it prohibit the association from staging its own event in the building if it meets the booking policy.

“I think the opportunity will be there for us to do business with both entities in the future,” said MacKeigan.

  • Was it a common sense approach to public policy? Or was it more political shenanigans?

Let’s set it up.

You’ll recall all of the commotion caused in the past year or so as Metropolitan Hospital sought to have a Certificate of Need regulation changed to allow the hospital to move more than two miles to the proposed “health care village” in Wyoming.

We won’t go through all the sordid details, but at the end the mandate from the brass at the Michigan Department of Community Health was clear: The Certificate of Need Commission was to change the rule in a way that solely benefits Metropolitan Hospital, and should knock off any ideas of taking a comprehensive look at the matter so other hospitals in the state could relocate if their circumstances warranted it.

Now comes Henry Ford Health System, which wants to relocate 70 beds from a closed facility to its hospital in Wyandotte.

The folks at Henry Ford Health System, much like their colleagues at Metropolitan Hospital, asked the CON Commission for a rule change to allow the move. The Department of Community Health’s response?

No way.

In an Oct. 10 memo, in fact, department Director JamesHaveman indicated that doing so would only “open the door for other ‘special circumstances’” and delay resolving the issue of allowing high-capacity hospitals to add beds.

We can only ask, why the change in how one hospital’s special circumstance is handled from another?

Oh, by the way, did we mention that Henry Ford Health System is on record supporting Proposal 4, the ballot amendment that would redirect money from the tobacco settlement to health care?

It’s the same Proposal 4 that Gov. JohnEngler vehemently opposes.

  • Sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine raised a record $6,800 for Indian Trails Camp last week, during its 17th annual Grand Rapids Magazine Comedy Joke-Off. It was huge, but so, too, was this year’s winner, Bill “Huge” Simonson, WBBL 1340-AM sportscaster, who mercilessly berated judges (the Coffee Dunkers of America, Grand Rapids Chapter) for passing him over last year to give the trophy to WXMI Fox 17’s Daniel Ring

The crowd favorite, however, was WOOD TV8’s morning anchor Brian Sterling, who was given official second-place title, while third went to the perennial bridesmaid, Mike Marn, a contributing humor writer for Grand Rapids Magazine.

Sterling belted out a bastardized version of a certain Eagles hit — “Welcome to the Hotel Calder Plaza …” — and riffed on Fred Meijer, questioning the grocer’s interest in animals, citing the penny pony rides, the “Purple Cow” ice cream shops, the Gardens’ DaVinci horse and now his interest in the zoo. “Is this what happens when you get too old, have too much money and your family won’t talk to you anymore?” Sterling mused.

Huge laced his routine with a not-fit-for-print 12-letter word, and after his victory was seen glad-handing audience members as they exited Dr. Grins Comedy Club.

One such member happened to be KathyRent, the mother of Business Journal reporter KatyRent

“He apologized,” Katy said with a shrug. “He hoped she wasn’t offended.”

Well, gee, why would any native West Michiganders be offended?

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