Monday, October 13, 2014

The Intermission's New Mural Is Unveiled


Van Andel Arena is pleased to unveil the new mural inside of their full service restaurant and bar, The Intermission, located on the lower level of the building. With a new season of Grand Rapids Griffins hockey kicking off tomorrow night and the typically busy run of shows through the fall and winter months, the arena has been eagerly awaiting the installation of the new mural on the restaurant’s east wall.

The new mural features several current and former Griffins players, a still shot of the arena in the center, and a variety of past performers, many of whom are native Michiganders. The arena had asked fans to vote for performers they would like to see on the mural as part of their “Intermission Mural Contest” last month. The artists chosen are Bob Seger, Josh Groban, Anthony Kiedis, Reba McEntire, Roger Waters, Brad Paisley, Ted Nugent, Lady Gaga, and Kid Rock.

A winner was randomly selected among all responses and will receive two tickets to a show of their choice (based on availability) at the arena in 2015 as well as dinner for two in The Intermission before the show.

Here are some shots from the installation process:







The Intermission is located street-level inside of Van Andel Arena and opens two hours before all major events and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games. The menu boasts amazing appetizers and new menu creations to satisfy every palate. The full service bar and constantly evolving wine list have offerings from around the world, enough to complement any dish. The Intermission can be booked on non-event days for private functions. For more information or to make a reservation before the next show you see at Van Andel Arena, please call 616-742-6453 or email shackney@smggr.com.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Van Andel Arena Ranks #4 in Latest Venues Today Social Media Power 100

Venues Today, a leading trade publication covering the business side of the sports and entertainment industry as it relates to venues, recently released its latest Social Media Power 100 (SMP100) list highlighting the top venues in the social media realm around the world. Grand Rapids’ own Van Andel Arena makes an appearance on the list at #4 for all venues with a capacity between 10,001 and 15,000.


Ahead of Van Andel Arena are Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario, who tops the list for mid-sized venues, followed by the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the SMG-managed Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

Venues Today uses pre-determined criteria to measure a venue’s presence on what they refer to as the ‘big three’ digital platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) as well as check-in data from Foursquare/Swarm to measure fans’ on-site social media engagement. The end result is a social media score used to rank all venues. The complete Venues Today SMP100 list can be found here.

Since Van Andel Arena opened its doors for the first time nearly 18 years ago, social media has swelled in popularity and is more prevalent today than ever. The traditional methods of marketing and advertising are no longer sufficient as an entire strategy. The SMP100 list has shown social media’s importance as a companion to press releases, traditional media, and other promotions. The staff at Van Andel Arena has worked hard to stay up on trends and be sure they are at the front of
a rapidly changing media landscape, and their presence on this list appears to show they are on the right track.

You can stay up to date on Van Andel Arena news by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter@VanAndelArena and Instagram @VanAndelArenaGR.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What You (Still) Need to Know About Paperless Ticketing


Last year, we posted a piece here to explain paperless ticketing, why it is an increasingly popular ticketing method for many shows and artists, and what you need to know if you have purchased such tickets to an upcoming event.

With a pair of upcoming shows, The Black Keys (Sept. 7) and Eric Church (Oct. 9), using paperless ticketing, we've decided to revisit the topic and publish last year's post again in order to clear up any questions customers may have leading up to our doors opening. However, since our initial post, Eric Church and ABC News have shed some more light on the subject.

In April, Church openly expressed his struggles to combat ticket scalpers. In addition to using the paperless ticketing method for this year's "Outsiders World Tour," Church went as far as to cancel tickets purchased by obvious scalpers for a show of his earlier this year. Church explained the decision further in a radio interview:
"If it was an even playing field, I wouldn't be as passionate as I am. But it's not. ... I want my fans to be the ones who buy tickets to my shows, and I want scalpers to back off. I can't stop ticket scalpers completely, but I can definitely make it harder for them."
Last month, ABCNews broadcast an investigative report on scalping, counterfeit tickets, and the effects they have on the average ticket buyer.



Please read our post from last year to learn more about paperless tickets and what it means for you when you arrive for the show:

Reported several years ago, a company in Texas was found managing over 100 computers with their own software programs. That sounds perfectly fine at first glance since computers can be found virtually at every company across the globe. The problem here was that these computers in particular, had been programmed to purchase tickets to shows in bulk the instant they became available.

After tickets to numerous events and shows had been purchased, a ticket broker—who’d prearranged to purchase those tickets from the company—ultimately aimed to sell them back to the public. Sometimes, a ticket broker has their own computers. Tickets can change hands two to three times with every one of them looking to gain profit. So regardless of the process, the objective is the same—drive up the price.

Those darn scalpers.

The reality is people have been scalping for a long time—modifying their approach to modernize the way they make profits.  The latest technologies provide faster and faster ways to get tickets. One method is automated computer software programs such as the one in Texas.

Often seen as a victim-less crime, those profits do pay a price. And that price falls on true fans. Once the broker has tickets, prices skyrocket. The broker sometimes can make it practically impossible for the average Joe to get a seat to his favorite band when prices are marked up to over 200%.

Another problem this poses is the uncertain validity of tickets purchased on the secondary market. Sure, you may be able to fork over a couple extra hundred bucks to take your girlfriend or boyfriend to the Kid Rock show or take your spouse and kids to the spectacular “Wicked” Broadway show coming into town, but how do you know they are legit?

Here is where paperless tickets come into play.

Paperless ticketing is an alternative method of purchasing tickets and continuing to gain access to the shows you want to attend. Instead of receiving your tickets ahead of the event, the credit card used to make the purchase will serve as your ticket. All you need to attend the show is the credit card you used to purchase the ticket and a valid, government-issued ID (such as a driver's license, state ID or passport).

Promoters are employing the use of paperless tickets more and more successfully at some of the largest venues throughout the world, by many of the most popular artists including the likes of Kid Rock and more. Simply put, this measure best ensures that fans can buy tickets at the price they initially set for the event all the while enjoying the added convenience of not having to risk losing or misplacing paper stubs.

When patrons arrive at the venue, just go directly to the gate and/or ticket-taker and present the credit card used to purchase the tickets along with a government-issued ID. Upon scanning your credit card to validate your order, a seat locator slip for each ticket ordered will be printed off for each seat purchased in your order.

But say you’re purchasing tickets for others and don’t intend on attending the show?

If you buy tickets for friends or family, sometimes you only have to go to the gate, not through the gate. Simply accompany them to the venue and show your credit card and ID to get them in.

If you happen to lose your credit card after your purchase was made, simply bring a print out of your confirmation email or online order history from Ticketmaster with your government-issued ID to the box office. The box office will then verify the order and make sure the names match. If they do not match, entry will not be permitted.

Paperless tickets take the ease out of a ticket process that has for too long been manipulated at the cost of the artist all the way down to the common fan.

Click here to learn more about paperless ticketing. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Special Invitation from Community Inclusion Group

*Keith Sweat on August 2nd has been cancelled. If you purchased tickets at our box office, refunds have been processed automatically. Otherwise, refunds are available at the point of sale.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority’s (CAA) Community Inclusion Group (CIG) would like to invite you to join our VIP List. By joining our VIP List, you will have information about events and attractions delivered right to your inbox. Simply click here to join and see a full list of events and attractions coming to YOUR community venues. If social media is more your speed, we invite you to connect with us:

Facebook
Van Andel Arena
DeVosPlace/DeVos Performance Hall

Twitter
@VanAndelArena
@DeVosPerfHall
@DeVosPlaceMeet

Instagram

@VanAndelArenaGR

By way of background, the CAA owns and operates the Van Andel Arena®, DeVos Place® and DeVos Performance Hall. The CAA’s mission is to encourage economic development within the West Michigan region, create jobs and provide facilities for the entertainment, enjoyment and/or benefit of the citizens in an economical manner by developing and operating convention, entertainment, and sports facilities within Kent County.

In 2005, CAA Board Chair Steve Heacock established a subcommittee to examine the reach of the CAA’s diversity efforts and to prepare a plan that includes financially viable actions for the CAA to undertake. Today, this group is known as the CIG. The CIG is a committee comprised of local community leaders who help identify and ensure that viable diverse events and programming take place at the venues. With this in mind, we are committed to making sure that you are in the know about events and attractions that come to the CAA’s venues and to the greater downtown area. Please consider joining our e-mail list and feel free to forward the link along to those who may have an interest, including co-workers, friends, family, Greek organizations, congregation members, etc.

Monday, April 28, 2014

5 Reasons Not to Miss Casting Crowns’ “Thrive Tour” at Van Andel Arena


If you are still undecided whether you want to attend the Casting Crowns show this week, here are five reasons why you don’t want to miss the “Thrive Tour” when it comes through our doors Thursday night.


1. World-class musicians

Perhaps no Christian music act has been more prolific over the past few years than Casting Crowns. The band currently holds the position as Billboard's top-selling act in Christian music since 2007 and has surpassed 8 million album sales since their debut more than a decade ago. It’s not just that they can sell albums. They’re talented musicians who have gained the respect of critics and collected quite a few awards along the way, including two American Music Awards (out of six total nominations), a GRAMMY Award for their 2005 album Lifesong, six GRAMMY nominations, 17 GMA Dove Awards and two 2012 Billboard Music Awards (out of six total Billboard Music Award nominations).

2. Mark Hall

Casting Crowns frontman/youth pastor (yes, he is still a youth pastor despite the Crowns’ rise in stature) Mark Hall packs a unique combination of talent, ability, heartfelt honesty, and quick wit. Not only can the man sing, but being the youth pastor he is, Hall has a strong ability to connect on a personal level. His sermons at shows are moving and thoughtful and will leave you feeling uplifted. If that is not enough for you, expect to enjoy a few laughs when he speaks as well. Take the videos below as examples. When he and his children were “snowed in” this winter, he decided to answer fan questions during a “Snow Day Q&A” with videos he posted to Instagram and Facebook that created several amusing moments.







3. Uplifting message

Christian music is an uplifting genre by nature, but the acts on Casting Crowns’ “Thrive Tour” are especially adept at making you feel strengthened and re-energized. Whether you’re looking to be uplifted, highlight your strong faith, or simply be entertained, you will not be disappointed on May 1st. Casting Crowns, as well as their opening acts Laura Story and for KING & COUNTRY, will drive home a powerful message with stunning musical displays that will keep you amused throughout the entire evening.

4. Laura Story

If singer/songwriters are more your style, Laura Story will be a highlight of the night for you. The talented vocalist is coming off a string of successful albums, including 2013’s “God of Every Story” that peaked at no. 7 on Billboard’s US Christian Albums chart and “Blessings,” which reached the top of the chart. She is well known on the Christian music scene by now, but in case you have not been introduced yet, the combination of Story’s vocal ability and the touching personal narratives within her songs will be a real treat.

5. for KING & COUNTRY

Since bursting onto the scene in 2011 with the driving single “Busted Heart (Hold on to Me),” there has been no looking back for Australian brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone. The following year saw the release of their first full-length studio album “Crave” that rocketed to no. 4 on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart and showcased their strong abilities to pack a powerful, melodic vocal punch amidst insightful and passionate lyrics. They went on to win the GMA Dove Award’s 2013 New Artist of the Year and gained the attention of fans and critics alike. for KING & COUNTRY are an act you will regret missing out on.

Tell us why you're coming to the show or let us know what you'd like to read about next on our blog in the comments below!

Casting Crowns will be performing at Van Andel Arena on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM with special guest Laura Story and for KING & COUNTRY. Tickets are still available at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place convention center box offices, Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Michael Bublé Makes His Return to Van Andel Arena This Summer

Michael Bublé
Grammy Award-winner Michael Bublé returns to Grand Rapids with a show at Van Andel Arena on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Touring in support of his new #1 selling release, “To Be Loved,” Bublé has been called “one of the most likeable performers on Earth.”  Michael’s current tour is his biggest stage production to date and sold out forty cities in 2013.  His stage show is propelled by a string of smash hits including his most recent single “Close Your Eyes,” “It’s A Beautiful Day,” “Haven’t Met You Yet,” “Home,” and “Everything,” along with Michael’s distinctive interpretations of classics like “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “Young at Heart.”

“To Be Loved” is Bublé’s 4th consecutive No. 1 album.  The multi-Grammy winning artist has had global sales of 45 million albums in the course of his extraordinary decade long career.  Bublé’s last CD, the multi-platinum “Christmas”, was the second biggest selling album of 2011 following Adele.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, May 2 at 10 am. (Psst! Tickets make a great Mother’s Day gift.) Tickets will be available at the Van Andel Arena® and DeVos Place® convention center box offices, Ticketmaster ticket centers, online at Ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

For more information on Michael Bublé, go to: http://www.michaelbuble.com.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Does All of the Ice Go When Hockey Isn’t Being Played?

This is one of the most common questions that we regularly receive from fans. The truth is that the ice is down nearly year-round. The last time you visited us for a non-hockey event, it is likely that the entire show was taking place on top of the ice.


While the answer is simple, the work behind it is not as simple so we seldom remove the ice in its entirety. The process of maintaining and removing/replacing the ice takes hours of skilled labor and attention to detail to make sure it is carried out smoothly. In fact, the only times we always remove the ice are when Monster Jam and Ringling Bros. come to town. (Monster Jam’s massive trucks require the traction that the friction with the cement floor provides, and the circus has to rig props into the floor to ensure safety for their performers.) Aside from these two shows and an occasional summer floor cleaning, the ice is covered with a couple layers of temporary flooring that fits together like giant puzzle pieces.

The ice is normally maintained at 17 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and is approximately one inch thick. In the past, a deionizer tank system was used in the creation of the ice, but we have switched over to a custom reverse osmosis water filtration system, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.


The process of removing the ice starts with our Zamboni’s. We use these ice resurfacers to help expose the logos underneath. These mesh logos, usually there are about 20 of them, are carefully pulled out of the ice to be cleaned and stored. The ice is then heated to loosen it up. Once the ice has softened, we use multiple vehicles, two Zamboni’s with a special “V” plow attached, a plow truck, a tractor, and two hi-los, to remove the ice. Once the majority of the ice is removed, a squeegee is attached to the tractor in order to further push the water down drains. Once complete, the floor is cleaned, the side boards removed, and setup for the incoming show begins.

This does not mean the job is done, however. Once the show is over, the ice needs to be rebuilt. To begin, the floor is cleaned with a special solvent. In the case of Monster Jam, we rent a “monster” sized floor scrubber to remove the tire tracks left embedded in the concrete. While cleaning the floor, we slowly cool the concrete by running coolant through 12 miles of piping that lay underneath. If the floor cools too quickly, the concrete ice pad that our ice sheet rests on will crack. The temperature of the floor eventually reaches a chilly 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and the operations team lightly floods the floor to even it out and fill any imperfections.

To achieve a glowing, white-colored ice, we utilize a 60-gallon tank attached with a 200-foot hose to cover the floor with a white paint powder and cold water mixture. This step is repeated three times.

Now the more tedious work begins. Six layers of thin ice are laid down individually on top of the white paint. Once the sixth layer has frozen, the process of painting the lines begins. Screws are placed in specially marked spots on the dasher boards so we can attach strings to guide straight lines. Then a staff of two paints five perfect circles, each with a 30-foot circumference. Once half the lines and circles are completed another crew comes in and starts to paint the AHL or NCAA official hash marks and face off circles. This paint is in liquid form and is diluted with hot water. Meanwhile, the mesh logos are being perfectly placed. Once we have the logos down, they are sealed with a coating of fine spray from a pump sprayer. This must be done many times to make sure the logos do not move or blur.


Now it is time to bring out the big hose. Once all logos are in place and painting is done, we pump several thin layers of water onto the ice throughout the night. It may sound odd, but once the ice reaches about a half-inch of thickness, we use Zamboni’s to flood the ice with hot water in order to relieve any ice stresses. If done properly the sheet of ice should look like crystal clear glass!

At this point, the hard work is over and the ice needs to be “skated in” as the perfect ice sheet is too dense for the liking of a professional or collegiate hockey team.

Special thanks to our Operations Manager, Kevin Abbott, and his crew for walking us through the process and keeping everything running smoothly. Keep up the impressive work guys!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

With Time Comes Change: New Video Board Installed


Van Andel Arena turned 17 years old this year, and with age comes change and the need for upgrades. If you haven’t made it to a Grand Rapids Griffins game at the SMG-managed arena yet this fall, you’ll notice something new the next time you visit. In early October, installation of a brand new video board began at the south end of the arena in order to enhance the experience of fans and guests.

The new widescreen video board is approximately 698 square feet (15.6’ x 44.72’) and displays advanced viewing angles with 3-in-1 LED pixels for a high quality picture regardless of where you are in the arena. It is capable of displaying both high definition and standard definition video that can be divided across the screen, allowing for multiple frames to be displayed simultaneously. The Daktronics screen is an upgrade from the previous video system that was much smaller and could only display standard definition video.


From video replays to advertisements and informational video clips, the new screen’s size, versatility and crystal clear picture quality will demand the attention of everyone in the audience, including those at the far end of the arena. Fans who attended the Grand Rapids Griffins’ home-opener this season were able to catch the first glimpse of the board as it was debuted during the game on October 18th, the same night as the Griffins' AHL Calder Cup Championship banner raising ceremony. The screen will be utilized during all home Griffins games and other sporting events at the arena.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Keeping it Clean: Arena Summer Months Are Cleaning Months

There are 12,800 seats in the Van Andel Arena. In one year, hundreds of concert goers, thrill junkies, entertainment seekers and Griffins fans will sit in each and every seat. Our seats are forsaken as just a place to sit, when theses thrones of opportunity truly lead to so much more.

Your seat introduces you to the world you have suddenly become a part of. It throws you alongside the throngs of screaming fans. It propels you onto your feet when our team scores a goal, and holds your beer while you celebrate in a round of high fives. It lifts your children higher as they stretch to see the circus elephants. And it brings friends together for a night out on the town. Our seats play an imminent role in the Van Andel Arena experience, and we proudly care for them throughout the year.









For almost two months every summer, our maintenance team cleans the place that brings happiness to so many. The crew cleans the floors, walls, decking and understructure, power washes the chair beams and cleans the upholstery of the arena bowl. The edges of the stairs are repainted for safety, the catwalk and concourse are thoroughly dusted, and any gum remnants are scraped away. The hardworking team at hand consists of eight SMG members, alongside an additional six to 18 people per day depending on the number of projects occurring at once. 

To begin the cleaning process, the crew starts with the most important element of the arena’s bowl: the seats. They actually disassemble the entire row of chairs to power wash underneath them and thoroughly clean the seats. From there, they are able to inspect possible damages and perform repairs. The crew checks the dasher boards for damages, looks for broken welds and tightens any loose screws.

Beyond the bowl, the team cleans 2,400 folding and banquet chairs, cleans the facility’s carpet and rewaxes the lobby’s entrance. They also get downright dirty by cleaning out the compactor room and just plain stinky when cleaning out the zamboni pit! Also at this time, the team works together in updating and extending training of safety procedures to meet SMG’s best practices programs and remain OSHA compliant.

To say the least, the crew is busy. They began this year’s cleaning process following the Calder Cup Playoffs and the June 30th Rush Concert. And they will complete their dirty jobs just in time for our fall events, because we have another year of concerts, thrills and games to cheer about at Van Andel Arena! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Toby Love to Become First Spanish Singing Artist to Perform at Van Andel Arena


Hear the name “Toby Love,” and think “crunkchata.” Think of music moving you across the dance floor. Think of the sweetness of his lyrics and the sultriness of his melodies.

Toby Love has made a prominent name for himself in the Latin music realm. It is his unique “crunkchata” style that hails from elements of R. Kelly, Juan Luis Guerra, Pitbull and even Michael Jackson that energizes his audience and his popularity.

“Crunkchata” is the contagious and dance-worthy rhythm produced by Latin cultures, languages and genres mixing as one identity that Love developed in 2006 while recording his first solo album and traveling between New York and Miami.

At this time, he was picking up both urban melodies and tropical elements. These influences pushed him toward combining the distinct sounds with one another; however, his unique background is what truly enabled the “crunkchata” movement.

The 28-year-old singer was born in the Bronx, New York to parents of Puerto Rican descent. Given the birth name Octavio Rivera, his elementary school friends teased him for always chasing after girls and nicknamed him “Toby Love.” The name quickly caught on and appropriately fits the romantic lyrics of his most popular songs.

At a young age Love’s mother married a Dominican man, introducing him to the culture Love has become an “honorary” member of. He remembers his mother listening to the traditional Dominican bachata music as she cleaned the house and he remembers falling in love with its rhythm and its culture. Growing up in a highly musical family, Love soon found himself on a path toward singing.

In 1999, Love became a member of what would be the premier group that would open bachata to households across the entire globe, Aventura. Alongside mega superstar, Romeo Santos, Aventura was soon producing international hits. Their world-wide success propelled them to the top of Latin Billboard charts and award winning ceremonies.

To Love, music has always been a way to further understand his own identity and after six years with Aventura, he chose to pursue a path as a solo artist in hopes of deepening this sense of self.

Since breaking away, Love has released five chart topping albums, created his own production label, Scarlito Entertainment, and continues to grow as an artist. Immediately after hitting the solo scene, his self entitled debut album was awarded Latin Billboard’s Latin Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year and in 2007 his successful song “Tengo un Amor” was dubbed Latin Billboard’s Tropical Airplay Song of the Year.

“Crunkchata” has developed into a culture and an identity for urban youth across the world. In finding himself, Love created a voice for the kids who he feels needed it most. And that, is true Love.