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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kanye West Concert One of Biggest Productions in Van Andel Arena History

Following through on the promise of going big for the 20th anniversary, last night’s Kanye West concert proved to be one of the biggest productions Van Andel Arena has ever experienced.

With a completely levitating stage and a total grid weight of over 200,000 pounds, the concert had the heaviest production in Van Andel Arena history. The specialized rigging utilized 182 motors and required an extra day to load-in.

The stage was suspended from the ceiling, moved from side to side and end to end over the general admission floor, and tilted to bring Kanye even closer to his fans as he performed suspended above them throughout the entire show. There was absolutely no equipment or staging on the floor, barring a set of speakers lining the perimeter, a set-up that is rarely seen for concerts.

Kanye West "Saint Pablo Tour" at Van Andel Arena - Photo by Jim Hill
“While we certainly have seen bigger concert stages, we’ve never seen a stage quite like this one,” commented Richard MacKeigan, SMG Regional General Manager for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. “A show like Kanye’s with a floating stage and nothing but fans on the floor not only pushes the boundaries of what the concert industry is capable of but also what we are capable of as a venue in this community. It was very exciting to have him here in Grand Rapids.”

The Kanye West concert was the latest event showcasing the diversity of programming that SMG staff strives to offer at Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall, bringing in a wide range of entertainers across a variety of genres for the West Michigan community to enjoy.

Between the three venues, Grand Rapids has seen broad spectrum of events, from family shows such as Marvel Universe Live, musical icons such as Paul McCartney and Elton John, R&B and hip-hop superstars such as Lil Wayne and R. Kelly, all-star Christian line-ups in Winter Jam and Outcry Tour, Mexican singer-songwriter Gerardo Ortiz, cultural shows such as Celtic Woman and Shen Yun, Tyler Perry’s Madea On The Run, hard rock groups such as Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, and Rob Zombie, and many more.

“We’ve been working very hard to have a full schedule of shows that has something for everyone in it throughout the year. These are community buildings, and we want our programming to reflect the entire community,” said MacKeigan. “Being able to bring a show like Kanye’s Saint Pablo Tour to Grand Rapids is a great example of what we have been able to do because of the support of the diverse landscape here.”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Paperless Tickets: What They Are & Why Artists Use Them

With word spreading of Garth Brooks coming to Van Andel Arena on May 14th, and the use of paperless or “credit card entry” tickets for select seats, we are revisiting the topic of paperless tickets to explain why paperless ticketing is becoming a popular method for shows and what you need to know if you’ve made such a purchase.

Paperless tickets were designed for fans by Ticketmaster in hopes to cut down on ticket scalpers and allow fans the opportunity to purchase tickets for a fair price. Since the creation of paperless tickets, many artists, such as Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Michael Bublé and Eric Church, have decided to make all tickets to their concerts paperless.

Eric Church openly expressed the difficulty of fighting with ticket scalpers during a 2014 interview with After nearly 1,000 of his tickets were purchased by scalpers, Church took action and canceled orders where scalpers were selling the tickets for $800-$900.

The reality, however, is that people have been scalping for a long time—altering their approach to modernize the way they make profits.  Recent technology has provided faster ways to get tickets, including automated computer software programs, which allow tickets to be purchased at large quantities. Along with this, we see the issues of pricing becoming unaffordable for fans and the risk of false tickets being sold, all issues that venues, music artists, and promoters have been trying to cut down on. ABC News had even covered a story in 2014 on ticket scalpers, false tickets, and the effects they have on fans. 

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, you will need to bring 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) to the event. When you arrive at the venue, simply show the ticket taker your credit card and ID. The ticket taker will swipe your credit card and a seat locator slip for each ticket will be printed off.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, what if I purchased tickets as a gift and don’t plan on attending the show? You will have to accompany them to the venue and show your credit card and ID to gain them access into the event.

For any other questions and concerns or if you’d just like to learn more about paperless tickets, click here

Friday, January 15, 2016

Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate!

The celebration is just around the corner, as Disney on Ice makes its way to Van Andel Arena this February. Disney on Ice is an event for both kids and adults, as we see classic characters from the Disney tales we know and love. Whether it’s kicking off the Chinese New Year with Mulan or celebrating Valentine’s Day with the Disney Princesses, this performance will have you on the edge of your seat with some amazing acts as it brings characters from sixteen different stories together for one colossal party.

Within this show you will get to see characters such as Mickey & Minnie Mouse, along with Donald and Goofy as they celebrate an Unbirthday party with Alice and the Mad Hatter, and Lilo and Stitch as they kick off a Hawaiian luau. Explore a winter wonderland with Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie, and don’t miss an appearance from a few of your favorite Disney villains and more in this medley of holidays.

Come and join in on the celebration this February from the 11th to the 14th for “Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate” at Van Andel Arena. Celebrate as a group of 15 or more and save $4.00 per ticket for select shows. Order your group tickets here.