Thursday, October 26, 2017

MSU Basketball Charity Exhibition Receives Overwhelming Response

Sunday’s men’s college basketball exhibition between Michigan State University and University of Georgia at Van Andel Arena in support of disaster relief efforts has proven to be an extremely high demand event. Tickets went on sale Wednesday afternoon, and the response was immediately overwhelming. There are no tickets currently available for the game, but there will be a very limited number of holds released this week.

“West Michigan has always claimed to be a big sports town and a big Michigan State town,” said Steve Heacock, Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority Chairman and Michigan State alumnus. “It’s wonderful to have real data to back that up.”

“Although not surprising, it’s great to see the amazing response from the Spartan fans in West Michigan,” added Tom Izzo, Michigan State men’s basketball head coach. “They are excited to see their Spartans play, but, more importantly, they are passionate about supporting a worthy cause and helping other people.”

The second-ranked Spartans will play the University of Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday, October 29 at 2 PM at Van Andel Arena. The game was just added to the schedule on Monday with the intent of raising funds for disaster relief. Ticket sales will benefit American Red Cross – International Services and American Red Cross – Georgia Region.

“Accolades to SMG and MSU staff who scrambled to put together the event in such a short time frame without any glitches,” said SMG Regional General Manager Richard MacKeigan. “What typically takes months to build has come together in just a matter of days. I credit the teamwork and enthusiasm from both sides for pulling this off.”

SMG has hosted a number of MSU events through the years, including School of Medicine White Coat ceremonies at DeVos Performance Hall and various sporting events in Van Andel Arena, among others. The Michigan State men’s basketball team has played at Van Andel Arena twice before, against Arkansas-Little Rock on December 3, 2005, and again on November 1, 2006 in an exhibition game against Grand Valley State University.

Tickets can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place box offices, online at, and charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 while supplies last.

Michigan State is ranked No. 2 in the country in the USA Today Coaches Preseason poll. Sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges was named the B1G Preseason Player of the Year and was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-B1G Team. He was joined on the all-conference squad by sophomore forward Nick Ward. Bridges, who is one of 20 players selected on the watch list for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award has also been named the preseason National Player of the Year by and NBC Sports and is the No. 1 candidate for Sports Illustrated. The Spartans return four of their top five scorers and eight of their top 10 from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad.

Georgia is led by senior forward Yante Maten, who was selected as the Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Year. Maten, a native of Bloomfield, Michigan, averaged 18.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last year. The Bulldogs received votes in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll after posting a 19-15 record last season and playing in the National Invitation Tournament.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Smoking area moves for all events effective immediately

The smoking area during events at Van Andel Arena will be relocated from the plaza in front of the building to outside the southeast corner of the venue for all events, effective immediately. The relocation will allow more efficient access for patrons coming and going from the arena as well as better flow on the front plaza.

The new smoking area will be accessible from the concourse by the stairs located at the southeast end of the arena. Fans with accessibility needs can use the elevator at the southeast corner of the concourse to access the smoking area outside of the employee entrance and will be wrist banded for re-entry.

The smoking area will be available for fans beginning with the opening of doors until 30 minutes prior to the end of a show or midway through the final period of sporting events.

Continuing SMG’s commitment to maintaining a safe and secure facility, security staff will continue to be present in the smoking area at all times.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

“Round Up at the Rink – to fight cancer” this October at Van Andel Arena

Fans attending events at the SMG-managed Van Andel Arena throughout the month of October will have the opportunity to “Round Up at the Rink – to fight cancer.” Donation jars will be available at concession stands during each event to benefit local non-profit, Cancer Families United, an organization that provides support to families affected by childhood cancer.

Cancer Families United was selected as the beneficiary of October’s Round Up at the Rink by Van Andel Arena staff member, Bessie Price, a breast cancer survivor being recognized by Van Andel Arena as part of the Round Up. In addition to selecting the charity, Bessie is also receiving a night on the town with two tickets to the November 1st Janet Jackson concert at Van Andel Arena, dinner at The B.O.B., concessions vouchers from SAVOR…Grand Rapids and car service provided by Executive Coach Service.

Nominated by co-workers Lyndsey Horvath and Kathy Yasick to be recognized, Bessie Price has worked as a custodian at Van Andel Arena since 1998, and is excited to be a part of the October Round Up at the Rink. As a cancer survivor, mother of 8, grandmother of 20 (with 2 more on the way) and great-grandmother of 10, she values the support that families can provide each other during hard times and understands the need for assistance for families dealing with childhood cancer.

“I’m excited to be able to give back and happy to do my part in this small way,” said Price. “I hope that I, along with everyone coming out to Van Andel Arena in October, can make a difference to kids and their families who are dealing with cancer.”

The SMG staff at Van Andel Arena set out to raise money for a cancer-related non-profit in October, expanding on Breast Cancer Awareness Month to open up fundraising opportunities for all types of cancer. Bessie’s selection of Cancer Families United is fitting in that it is extending September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by continuing to offer support into the month of October.

At the end of October, SMG will add to patrons’ donations by matching the total donation amount, up to $1000, with a gift to Cancer Families United in the name of Dean Gust, Van Andel Arena’s Head Ticket Taker who lost his battle with cancer in 2015.

Events taking place in October at Van Andel Arena include:
Oct. 6: Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Manitoba Moose
Oct. 7: Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Manitoba Moose
Oct. 10: WWE Smackdown
Oct. 16: Steely Dan
Oct. 21: Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Hershey Bears
Oct. 25: Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Tucson Roadrunners
Oct. 27: Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Chicago Wolves
Oct. 28: Bob Dylan & His Band, Plus Mavis Staples

About Cancer Families United
Cancer Families United is a grass roots non-profit established in 2012 to provide essential support and services to families of Southwest Michigan affected by childhood cancer through family networking, community awareness, financial assistance and advocacy for a cure. For more information, visit

Monday, August 28, 2017

Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall enjoy record year in Grand Rapids

The recently closed fiscal year proved to be a record-breaking year for the SMG-managed venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan – Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, and DeVos Performance Hall. With the record-breaking combined fiscal performance from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, the three venues are continuing the momentum generated by the celebration of Van Andel Arena’s 20th anniversary in 2016.

Van Andel Arena hosted 37 events for a total of 60 performances throughout the fiscal year, not including Grand Rapids Griffins AHL Hockey games and non-ticketed events. Some highlights included the legendary Paul McCartney setting a record for gross ticket sales for a single event and Kanye West bringing the heaviest production the arena has ever seen. The arena also hosted Journey & The Doobie Brothers, Blink-182, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Snoop Dogg, Professional Bull Riders, Eric Church, a live broadcast of WWE RAW, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Red Hot Chili Peppers and several others.

“We had a big year planned for the 20th anniversary of Van Andel Arena, and that carried over down the street at DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall as well,” said SMG Regional General Manager Richard MacKeigan. “The enthusiasm we operate with and the success we have been able to enjoy is a manifestation of the support we have from the community and SMG, and the confidence we gain from the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority.”

Adding yet another arena highlight to a year that already had plenty, the Griffins clinched their second Calder Cup Championship in franchise history on home ice in June.

"Grand Rapids has three wonderful venues and the corporate staff in the SMG Live Entertainment Division did a magnificent job working with them to achieve some outstanding results that we are very proud of,” said SMG Executive Vice President Doug Thornton. "We work hard to make sure our corporate resources are of great value to our buildings around the world, and the performance in Grand Rapids last year is a perfect example of the partnerships we strive to create."

Chris Cornell at DeVos Performance Hall
DeVos Performance Hall hosted a number of significant events as well, including Aretha Franklin, Dan TDM, Bill Engvall, Boston, Chris Cornell, and others. In addition to its usual run of public shows such as the 9th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival, an event created by SMG Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA), DeVos Place hosted a number of private events, conventions, conferences, and meetings to keep a fully loaded schedule that rarely left the building idle.
Comedian Bill Engvall at DeVos Performance Hall

In addition to ticketed events, the buildings hosted several events open to the community as well. Both DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena hosted art installations during ArtPrize, an annual international art competition held in Grand Rapids. Two of the installations in DeVos Place were chosen as winners in their categories.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, Van Andel Arena opened its doors to the public with a free Halloween Open House in October and capped off the year-long commemoration with a charity dinner in January featuring a moderated discussion with General Managers of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, and Detroit Tigers with all proceeds benefitting local non-profit organizations.

Both DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena hosted graduation ceremonies this fiscal year. Other events such as the Turkey Trot 5K to benefit Grand Rapids Public Schools on Thanksgiving morning, Barley, BBQ & Beats to benefit Hospice of Michigan, and Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Food from the Heart took place as well.

The year wasn’t without its accolades along the way as Regional General Manager Richard MacKeigan was named among the industry’s elite on Billboard’s Top Arena Managers list in September and followed that up by being named winner of Venues Today’s “most prestigious award,” the Hall of Headlines in December.

In order to improve the guest experience, Van Andel Arena installed new LED lighting both inside and outside of the arena, and repaired sections of sidewalk around the building. The arena also wrapped itself in a bow again to celebrate the holidays and gave the marquee a facelift to improve its graphical capabilities.

DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena both continued their commitment to the 2030 District, a downtown district facilitated by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan with help from the Institute for Energy Innovation, aimed at dramatically reducing environmental impacts in the community. DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena also participated in the Annual Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit to highlight its ongoing sustainability efforts.

“We can’t wait to show West Michigan what is in store for the new fiscal year,” added MacKeigan. “We are thrilled to be able to match the energy that we feel from the community and our partners that make this all possible.”

Fans in costume at the 20th Anniversary Halloween Open House

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pollstar magazine shows Van Andel Arena & DeVos Performance Hall among world's best in 2016

Concert industry magazine Pollstar’s 2016 lists were recently released in their January 16th Year-End issue, and Van Andel Arena and DeVos Performance Hall have found a place among the top venues in the world.

Van Andel Arena celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016, and it shaped up to be a year-long celebration with some of the biggest acts in the industry. With performances from the likes of Elton John, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney, among several others, the arena sold enough tickets to come in at #35 among arena venues of all sizes in the United States and #69 worldwide on Pollstar’s list of Top 200 Arena Venues in 2016.

On Pollstar’s list of Top 200 Theatre Venues, DeVos Performance Hall ranked at #20 in the United States and #29 worldwide for theatre venues of all sizes. Both lists tracked reported ticket sales between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.

The Avett Brothers perform at Van Andel Arena on November 12, 2016
“It is incredibly gratifying to see that the support we have from the community here and the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) isn’t going unnoticed,” said SMG Regional General Manager Richard MacKeigan. “Without their loyalty and patronage, it would be very difficult to be successful, and we felt like we received plenty of both for DeVos Performance Hall and the 20th anniversary of Van Andel Arena. We are very excited that these rankings reflect that as well.”

Prior to Pollstar’s year-end lists, Van Andel Arena and DeVos Performance had already been recognized by other trade magazines as well. Venues Today showed the arena as #4 in North America and #11 worldwide on their Top Stops list for venues with a capacity between 10,001 and 15,000, and the arena also appeared at #5 among venues of the same capacity range on the magazine’s Social Media Power Poll which ranks venues by their social media presence. DeVos Performance Hall came in at #16 worldwide on Venues Today’s list of Top Stops for venues with a capacity between 2,001 and 5,000.

Van Andel Arena also came in at #3 on Billboard’s Boxscore rankings for venues in North America with a capacity between 10,001 and 15,000. The arena was #8 worldwide in the Boxscore rankings.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Van Andel Arena celebrates 20 years with benefit dinner and major Detroit sports executives

Van Andel Arena will be capping off its year-long commemoration of 20 years with a moderated discussion with some of Detroit’s top brass in sports.

The arena is inviting the community to join them on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 for a charity benefit dinner followed by a conversation with Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila, Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Ken Holland, and Detroit Pistons General Manager Jeff Bower. The conversation will be moderated by WOOD-TV8’s Jack Doles, and a brief question and answer session is expected to take place afterward.

As the Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons each have minor league affiliates in West Michigan, Avila, Holland, and Bower will explore the importance of their connections to Grand Rapids and the major league advantages each organization is able to enjoy as a result.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame, West Michigan Sports Commission, Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation, and Whitecaps Community Foundation.

Tickets for the public to enjoy the after-dinner program starting at 8:00 PM are just $5, and are on sale now at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place box offices, or 1-800-745-3000.

This unique event is possible thanks to generous sponsors: Ticketmaster, Metro Health Hospital Foundation, Grand Rapids Griffins and Staffing Inc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Richard MacKeigan named Hall of Headlines Winner; Van Andel Arena a Top Stop in 2016

Venues Today magazine presented its “most prestigious award,” the Hall of Headlines, this month with Richard MacKeigan receiving the honor in the Bookings category.

MacKeigan, Regional General Manager for SMG at Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place, was nominated for bookings for breaking multiple venue records including Garth Brooks’ record for most tickets sold for a single engagement and Paul McCartney’s record for gross ticket sales for a single event, in addition to Kanye West bringing in one of the largest productions the venue has ever seen.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Van Andel Arena has seen one of the biggest years in its history in 2016, hosting over 30 concerts which is its highest number in 18 years.

“This says a lot about our community. We’ve had an incredible year with some big shows, but they were only as big as they were because of support from our community in West Michigan,” said MacKeigan. “That paired with ongoing confidence from the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority has laid the foundation and provided proof that this community can support some of the biggest events. We are all very excited to continue building on that momentum.”

Including MacKeigan, SMG had a record 14 nominees for this year’s Hall of Headlines, including four from Grand Rapids. Hilarie Szarowicz, (Director of Marketing at Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place), Jeff Dubin (Director of Food & Beverage for SAVOR at Van Andel Arena), and Eddie Tadlock (Assistant General Manager at DeVos Place) were nominated this year as well.

Among the other nominees from SMG, Meghan Doyle (Director of Marketing at the BOK Centre in Tulsa, OK) and Mark Anderson (General Manager and Vice President of Premier Food Services in Del Mar, CA) were named winners of the Hall of Headlines in the Marketing and Concessions categories respectively.

Van Andel Arena makes Top Stops list for 2016
Van Andel Arena was recognized elsewhere in Venues Today’s latest edition as well. The magazine included its final Top Stops list for 2016 and the arena showed up at #4 in North America and #11 worldwide for venues with a capacity of 10,001-15,000. The list ranks the top 20 venues in size categories by total gross sales between October 16, 2015 and October 15, 2016. In addition to Van Andel Arena, seven other SMG venues were also named to the Top Stops list in the 10,001-15,000 category. They are Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD, König Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany, Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL, Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, KS, Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, SD, and DCU Center in Worcester, MA.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wrapping up the year with a ribbon

Fans making their way to last week's Stevie Nicks concert probably noticed something new on the front of the arena.

The holiday season has arrived once again which means Van Andel Arena has itself wrapped in more than just a busy schedule of events. A giant, red ribbon has been installed on the face of the arena to celebrate the holidays.

This will be the third season the ribbon, decked out in many red lights to shine a bright and stunning display throughout the night, has been installed on the arena. It is 8 feet wide and spans across the front of Van Andel Arena, reaching 300 feet all the way across.

As it has the previous three years, the ribbon will remain displayed on the arena throughout the holiday season.

In lieu of a tree, arena staff decided to do something a little different to celebrate the holidays in 2014 by installing the ribbon. Christmas Décor by Lakeshore Lighting built the ribbon for the arena and installs it each year.

The ribbon being installed this November.

It seems some fans have already taken notice of the ribbon's glowing return to downtown:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place executives nominated for industry awards

Garth Brooks at Van Andel Arena on May 12, 2016
This December, Venues Today magazine will be presenting its “most prestigious award,” the Hall of Headlines, with SMG receiving a record 14 nominations, including four executives from Grand Rapids. The categories featured in the nominations include News, Bookings, Operations and Tech, Marketing, and Concessions with SMG nominated in all 5 categories.

Rich MacKeigan, General Manager for SMG at Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place was nominated for bookings for breaking multiple venue records including Garth Brooks’ record for most tickets sold for a single engagement and Paul McCartney’s record for gross ticket sales for a single event.
Hilarie Szarowicz, Director of Marketing at Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place was nominated for hosting a Facebook promotion encouraging people to share their favorite event memory and/or photo using hashtag #MyVAA20 in honor of the 20th Anniversary of Van Andel Arena. The promotion was intended to build awareness of the arena’s 20th anniversary while capturing user content for use in future marketing materials. The campaign resulted in 41,599 people reached, 1,300+ memories (comments) posted, 844 reactions and 118 shares.

In the Concessions category, Jeff Dubin, Director of Food & Beverage for SAVOR at Van Andel Arena, was nominated for introducing a new take on the everyday salad bar called a “Living Salad Bar” for the bands, staff and crew of the “San Francisco Fest Tour,” featuring rock bands Journey, The Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason Aug. 2, 2016.

"Living Salad Bar"
The Living Salad Bar featured several types of lettuces and kales with all of the typical salad ingredients, with the exception that the lettuce is still alive. In order to provide the freshest salad possible, staff and crew snip their lettuce fresh off the plant before placing it on their plate.

For the Operations and Tech category, SMG’s Eddie Tadlock, Assistant General Manager at DeVos Place, was nominated for efforts to decrease energy usage by 6.03 percent by installing new equipment and reducing wasted resources resulting in the venue finishing second in the 2nd annual Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit.

In total, 14 SMG executives were nominated across all five categories of the awards. Other SMG executives nominated are listed below.

Bookings category:
  • Leonard Bonacci, Regional Vice President at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, AZ 
  • Lynn Carlotto, General Manager at Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario, Canada 
  • Jerry Goldman, Assistant General Manager at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN 
  • Jeff Nickler, General Manager at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK 
  • Chris Semrau, Assistant General Manager at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, in Sioux Falls, SD 
Marketing category:
  • Josh Kesler, Marketing & Sales Manager at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, KY 
  • Steve Poremba, Director of Marketing at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA 
  • Meghan Doyle, Director of Marketing at the BOK Centre in Tulsa, OK 
Concessions category:
  • Mark Anderson, General Manager and Vice President of Premier Food Services in Del Mar, CA 
News category:
  • Eduardo Cajina, General Manager at the Coliseo of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Monday, October 3, 2016

Van Andel Arena’s Richard MacKeigan named among concert industry's elite on Billboard’s Top Arena Managers list

SMG Regional General Manager Richard MacKeigan has been a vital part of putting Grand Rapids on the map in the concert industry for the past 18 years and his work is not going unnoticed. The September 24, 2016 issue of Billboard magazine includes the list of Top Arena Managers chosen for “their leadership of the venues that dominate Boxscore rankings,” and MacKeigan is mentioned among the 10 listed for arenas with capacities between 10,001 and 15,000.

The magazine mentions Van Andel Arena’s 20th anniversary and some of the larger shows that have come to Grand Rapids recently, including Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, Elton John, and Kanye West.

“We have consistently fought above our weight class when it comes to concerts and their success,” says MacKeigan in the piece.

MacKeigan, a native of Canada and father of three, came to Grand Rapids in September of 1998 as SMG General Manager. He has been at the forefront of shaping the entertainment industry in Grand Rapids with financial, marketing, booking and operational responsibility for Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall.

“This is a reflection of everyone in Grand Rapids. The community has supported us for 20 years and allowed us to continue to grow and bring in some of the biggest shows touring today,” MacKeigan said of the ranking. “The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) placed their trust in SMG and our local staff, and we have worked hard in partnership with our SMG Corporate staff to be sure promoters, agents, managers and artists continue to have Grand Rapids at front of mind when they are planning their shows.”

Van Andel Arena Tops List of North American Venues
The Boxscore rankings, which are the determining factor in the Top Arena Managers list, show Van Andel Arena as the top ranking venue in North America with a capacity between 10,001 and 15,000. The Grand Rapids arena ranks as #5 worldwide and joins Intrust Bank Arena (#6, Wichita, Kansas) as the only other SMG-managed venue on the list. SMG also manages Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, which appeared at #4 worldwide for venues with a capacity above 15,000.

The Boxscore ranking lists venues by size and total gross ticket sales between November 10, 2015 and July 18, 2016. Van Andel Arena’s #1 North American ranking comes behind a reported $13.4 million in gross ticket sales from a wide-ranging set of shows. During this period, the arena saw huge sales from sold out and near-sold out shows such as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Zac Brown Band, Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, Elton John, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire, twenty one pilots and Def Leppard, as well as a six-show run from Garth Brooks that broke venue attendance records. The sellouts and huge crowds continue a trend that the arena has enjoyed since first opening its doors, proving to promoters again and again that Grand Rapids is a must-play destination when routing their artists’ tour schedules.

The momentum has continued since then with programming growing in both diversity and size. Van Andel Arena recently hosted one of the largest productions to date with Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” on September 27, and Paul McCartney set an arena record for gross ticket sales from a single event when his “One on One” Tour made a stop in Grand Rapids on August 15.