Money set aside to expand arena

June 11, 2010
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The budget to expand the northwest corner of the Van Andel Arena concourse has increased over the past month, as the Convention and Arena Authority recently agreed to set aside $1.2 million for work that was estimated at costing $1 million in May and $875,000 last year.

“The initial numbers were based on a rough estimate,” said Rich MacKeigan, CAA executive director and SMG regional general manager.

MacKeigan said half of the $200,000 increase from May is due to a design change made by Rossetti & Associates, the southeast Michigan architect that designed the arena. The other half of the increase is due to safety concerns with a project that will stretch the concourse outside of the building’s exterior wall, just south of the arena’s main entrance.

The work will expand that corner by about 3,500 square feet and possibly create enough room for a food court and more revenue from concessions. The work is also expected to alleviate the congestion that occurs in that corner for heavily-attended events as existing concession stands will be moved from the area. “The drawings are done. The instructions to potential bidders are done,” said MacKeigan.

Eight pre-qualified local contractors were to have looked over the concourse last Wednesday to get a feel for the work and MacKeigan hoped all would bid on the project. Work could begin in early July, but could take until late November or early December to complete. If so, that means the CAA won’t meet its initial completion date of the Grand Rapids Griffins home opener in October.

“My feeling is the budget takes precedence over the timeline right now,” said MacKeigan.

The $1.2 million for the concourse expansion is part of the CAA’s capital improvements budget, which totals nearly $4 million for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1. Of the $4 million, about $1.3 million is being carried over from this fiscal year.

Another item in the CAA’s capital improvements budget is a new $1 million LED ribbon board that will be strung around the horseshoe-like facing that rings the arena’s upper bowl. MacKeigan said the board has a potential to increase the building’s advertising revenue. “At least this is a capital expenditure that comes with revenue potential,” said CAA board member Lew Chamberlin.

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