Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Halloween On Ice: A Star Studded Cast

Halloween on Ice brings not only a fun, family-friendly take on Halloween but also a professional and star studded cast. With talented performers boasting histories in and out of the rink, Halloween on Ice takes center stage at Van Andel Arena® on October 30th at 7PM.

Meet the Performers…

Nancy Kerrigan

Nancy Kerrigan is a two time Olympic medalist and United States National Champion. Born in Massachusetts, Nancy began skating at the age of 6. With an impressive figure skating career, Nancy retired from competition after winning a silver medal in the 1994 Winter Olympics. From there, she focused her career on performing in ice skating shows, such as Champions on Ice, Broadway on Ice and Halloween on Ice. Nancy was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.

Kurt Browning

Kurt Browning is a four time Canadian Figure Skating and World Champion. Kurt has worn a variety of hats during his years of experience, including choreographing routines and shows (such as Halloween on Ice) and landing a Guinness World Record in 1988 for being the first skater to land a quadruple jump during a competition. Kurt was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and Canada’s Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000.

Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir is a three time United States National Champion and renowned name in the skating world. With a unique style to his skating, Johnny began his skating career at the age 12, constantly competing and training and landing difficult movements within his first week of skating. After one week on skates, he could perform an axel, a double axel by two weeks, and a triple jump before the age of 13. After a successful career, filled with eccentric performances, wins and losses, Johnny hung up his skates in 2013 and is now a figure skating analyst for NBC Olympics.

Check out the rest of the skaters that will also be performing in Halloween on Ice and join the
fun on October 30th at Van Andel Arena!

Alissa Czisny, two time United States National Champion
Jozef Sabovcik, Olympic bronze medalist
Akop & Aidas (Akop Monokian & Aidas Reklys), acrobatic and pyrotechnic figure skating pair
Nicole Bobek, United States National Champion
Alex Murphy, Skating with the Stars winner
Navarro & Bommentre (Brent Bommentre & Kim Navarro), United States bronze medalists
Denney & Coughlin (Caydee Denney & John Coughlin), United States National Champions
Shawn Sawyer, three time Canadian National medalist

Friday, July 31, 2015

Spokefly: Keeping Grand Rapids Green!

With Grand Rapids becoming a center of business and culture development, efforts are being made to make it more…green! Sustainability has become a strong focus of development in the city, especially through the implementation of new public transportation. Recognizing the desire for more convenient and green transportation, Spokefly, a bike share program brought by the Spoke Folks, has recently launched in the Grand Rapids community. Spoke Folks brought their love of cycling to the city with this easy to use bike sharing system. So…

What is “bike sharing”?

Bike sharing, according to Spokefly, allows for a cleaner and greener way to commute within the city. Through sharing bikes with others, this form of public transportation cuts back on toxic emissions from cars and promotes a healthier lifestyle while also placing convenient bike stops throughout the city for easy access to businesses downtown. With these locations sporadically placed throughout the downtown area, bike riders can rent a bike for $1 per ride plus $0.15/minute. For example, a 10-minute ride will cost $2.50. The Spoke Folks hope to expand the program to the city’s neighborhoods next year.

How does it work?

In order to use Spokefly, you’ll first need to become familiar with the locations in which you can rent a bike. Download the Spokefly app from the Apple App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android). From there, you’ll be able to use a map to determine where the closest bike location is for you. From the same app, you’ll be able to pay for rental, unlock a bike and return a bike to a Spokefly location. Once you get a location set, you’ll snap a picture of the bike to the Spokefly app and get the combination needed in order to return the bike.

Is there one near the Arena?

There is a Spokefly bike rack next to Van Andel Arena, towards Ionia Street. There is also one located near the corner of Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street, right next to DeVos Place, for convenient travel to events in both the convention center and DeVos Performance Hall.

Please click to download the app to iPhones or Androids.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mike Epps & Why He Is the “Real Deal”

Mike Epps is a comedic prodigy with a prestigious performance history. Born in 1970, the Indianapolis native is known for roles in popular movies such as The Hangover (Parts I and III), Next Friday and Friday After Next, as well as a starring role in ABC’s forthcoming adaptation of the 1989 film Uncle Buck. Epps has also starred in a variety of comedy shows, including his own Mike Epps: Funny Bidness and Mike Epps Presents: Live from Club Nokia.

Epps’ knack for comedy began at an early age, and he proceeded to perform standup routines in his teenage years. Comedy would become Epps breakthrough occupation after joining the Def Comedy Jam Tour in 1995 and appearing in HBO’s Def Comedy Jam broadcasts. In 1999, Epps was cast in the popular Friday movie franchise to star alongside Ice Cube, and from there, his career would be launched as he continued to be cast in a variety of roles in popular movies and television shows, including the Resident Evil franchise and The Fighting Temptations, alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and BeyoncĂ©.

Epps has made a name for himself in show business and has grown into a well known comedic and acting talent. He is currently working on a variety of projects, such as his starring role in the Starz series “Survivor’s Remorse,” BET drama “Being Mary Jane” and the Universal feature “Term Life.” He is also in the midst of production for the HBO biopic “Bessie” based on famed blues performer Bessie Smith’s rise to fame, as well as his role as legendary comedian Richard Pryor in the upcoming Lee Daniels biopic.

Be sure to check out Epps’ “The Real Deal Tour” at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, October 31st at 8 PM. Get your tickets here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Let’s face it, rock concerts are not a night at the symphony and the rules to live by while at the venue are quite a bit more relaxed. However, there is still a code that you should follow while you are at a concert. This goes for any show at any venue.

This is not a new topic, but it is one worth revisiting (as it often is over and over again by various sources). Regardless of how many times a blogger, magazine, or journalist writes an article about concert etiquette, we still hear frequent stories from fans about a ruined concert experience because of the behavior of those around them. Obviously, you need to stay within the law and respect the venue’s policies, but there are also a set of unwritten (and not always agreed upon) rules to keep in mind while you attend your next concert.

Before we ask your opinion on concert etiquette, please allow us to present a few thoughts based on feedback we have heard from fans over the years.

The Sit or Stand Dilemma
This one comes up a lot. You can easily split a concert crowd into two categories: those who like to sit and those who like to stand. For some shows, it’s almost a unanimous mindset leaning one way or the other, but for other shows, there is a gray area that can easily cause issues between patrons.

Our best advice is to look at your surroundings. Are you at a high energy rock concert where everyone else is standing? Then it is probably okay to get up on your feet.

Are you at a low-key performance where most everyone is seated? Then it is probably best to give your feet a rest.

Simply, be considerate of those around you. You wouldn’t want somebody blocking your view and ruining your experience, would you?

Have tickets and/or ID ready
Occasionally, there can be very long lines to get into an event. If you have your tickets, and in some cases I.D. and credit card (for paperless entry), ready when you reach the turnstiles, it will make the entire process quicker and easier for everyone involved. The more time you take fumbling through your belongings looking for your tickets, the more time there is for fans to begin piling up behind you.

Concerts are social events, so it is natural to want to turn to your bestie and show your excitement when your favorite song begins, but try not to go too far. It’s alright to talk to your heart’s desire in between acts, but once the musicians are on stage, do your best to pay attention to the show. You came to see the band perform, not catch up on the latest gossip. If you would rather sit and chat through the entire show, perhaps watching a live concert DVD at home is more your style. There will be plenty of time to discuss the fine details after the final notes have been played. 

Besides becoming the mortal enemy of concert-goers sitting next to you, you might anger the artist to the point of them leaving the stage as well.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you were at a live concert and you couldn’t inform everyone you know that you were having more fun than them, were you really there?

In the age of social media, sometimes it can seem as though you aren’t having fun unless you are posting to your social media pages to show just how much fun you are having. We are ever-connected to our devices these days, but much like everything else moderation is key. It’s fine to snap a few pics here and there, send out a tweet or two, or check in with the baby sitter via a quick text, but that bright light of yours can be very distracting. 

Also keep in mind that some shows will not even allow the usage of phones. The Eagles and Kevin Hart are examples of recent shows that enforced a strict “no cell phone” policy. And tablets? They are almost never allowed in, and we would strongly encourage you not to use them even if they were. (They are huge! You might as well erect a billboard in front of the person behind you while you hold it up to snap some pics.)

Enjoy the moment, use your phone sparingly, and create some memories. You come to see a live show, not watch it through a tiny screen, right? Besides, let’s face it – chances are most of those pics and videos you take with your phone aren’t going to turn out very well anyway. (Pro Tip: Using your flash when taking pics at a concert does nothing for the exposure. That bright light will only travel a few feet directly in front of you. It's best to turn it off when taking some shots at a show.)

Rocking out in your own personal space without completely invading the personal space of the people sitting next to you is a skill. If you are not sure how to do it, watch the veteran concert-goers around you. They know how to ramp up the excitement while toning down the arm-flailing. Furthermore, if you are holding a drink, do not forget that you are holding a drink!

Nobody likes a cold liquid being spilled in their hair or down their back because the person behind them cannot stop sloshing their beverage around while attempting to showcase their moves. This brings us to the next one…

Drink responsibly– don’t spill!
If you are drinking at an event, please drink responsibly. Know your limits and be sure you have assigned a designated driver for the evening. If everyone in your group is drinking, arrange for a friend to pick you up after the show, call a cab, or use services such as Uber to make it home safely. There are no excuses here.

Don’t stand in the aisles
Not only can this be a serious safety issue, but aisles are busy passageways. You standing in the middle of one with your fist in the air while people are trying to get to their seats or back out to the concourse is a major inconvenience. Not to mention, you paid for specific seats, and standing in the aisle may be blocking the view of someone who paid to be in the section you are trying to gain access to.

Concerts are exciting, and we encourage you to display your excitement before, during, and after the events you attend. However, yelling at the top of your lungs the entire time can be a bit excessive and sure to annoy the other fans around you. Definitely express how great the show is with a few exclamations, but remember that while you are yelling, woo-ing, or screaming “FREEBIRD!” after every song (this stopped being funny at least 20 years ago, by the way) both you and those around you probably cannot hear the show everyone paid their hard earned cash to see.

Basically, everything boils down to realizing you are one of many people at a concert and that your behavior could impact the experience of others. Be mindful of your surroundings, nice to your neighbors, and have a great time. We want everyone to have the best experience possible while they are here, and pleasant fan-to-fan interaction goes a long way toward helping that happen.

Now it is your turn. Did we nail it? Did we get it all completely wrong? Do you agree with some of it, but the rest is way off base? Did we miss something? We want to know your thoughts. Tell us in the comments below, and let’s keep this conversation going.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#TBT: NKOTB Then & Now

Courtesy: Rolling Stone
New Kids On The Block are stepping into the ring for 2015! The pop phenoms announced that Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum selling artists TLC and Nelly will be joining them for their “Main Event” tour this summer. The tour will stop in Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena® on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 7:00 PM.

Throwback Thursday

NKOTB, from Boston, Massachusetts, came together in 1984 and captured an audience with their pop stardom. Since bursting into the music industry, NKOTB have sold over 80 million records, meaning that they are one of the world’s best selling musical groups ever! After a rough start, NKOTB released their first hit “Please Don’t Go Girl.” Their other hits, such as “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “I’ll be Loving You (Forever)” dominated the airwaves during the late 1980s. By the 1990s, NKOTB would become one of the most popular acts to come from the United States, their third album release being certified as triple platinum. With extravagant tours, pay-per-view specials and merchandising, NKOTB had reached all time high stardom.

The group split up in late 1994.


The boy band reunited in 2008 with a new album and a new reunion tour. Their reunion album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard charts and was certified Gold that same year. NKOTB was back and with a punch.

“We always have something special up our sleeves,” said NKOTB member Donnie Wahlberg. “Our fans keep asking us to come back out on the road, and we want to keep giving them what they want! We wanted to make sure it was something new and fresh and fun and totally worthwhile for all of our supporters year after year. This year, we are making it THE MAIN EVENT. And we promise, it will be THE TICKET of the summer.”

 Share this post and your #TBT with us :)

Tickets to the May 30th show at Van Andel Arena are available at the Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place® box offices, all Ticketmaster ticket centers, online at Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. A purchase limit of eight tickets will apply and all prices are subject to change.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

SMG Director of Marketing Lynne Ike Honored with WGVU Engage I HAVE Made a Difference Award

Lynne Ike
, SMG Director of Marketing for Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall, was awarded yesterday with the 2014 WGVU Engage I HAVE Made a Difference Award as an outstanding individual in the Arts category.

The WGVU Engage I HAVE Made a Difference Awards are awarded to one individual and one non-profit organization that best exemplifies outcomes in the five WGVU Engage areas of focus and overall excellence in support of our community. The categories include Inclusion, Health, Arts, Veterans, Education, People’s Choice, Non-Profit of the Year and Person of the Year, and are judged by a group of panelists representing the WGVU Engage Committee, WGVU Public Media, and the community.

Lynne Ike has been chair of the WGVU Engage Arts Committee for two years, and has strived to create opportunities for young people to experience the arts. She facilitated a trip, complete with boxed lunches, to a Grand Rapids Symphony Pops concert for children from D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s Home, and is currently working to bring children from this organization to a Grand Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops concert. Her efforts also enabled local veterans and their families to attend a Sesame Street Live performance at Van Andel Arena last year.

Lynne is active with the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority’s Community Inclusion Group (CIG), which strives to bring diverse entertainment to Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall. Her efforts with CIG include working with various West Michigan communities to raise awareness of events and to create a welcoming atmosphere at the venues, as well as at other businesses downtown, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other establishments.


Tweet a congratulations to Lynne: 

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:

Van Andel Arena
DeVosPlace/DeVos Performance Hall




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.