GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Action 2.0 and the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention Arena Authority have reached an agreement about how they will work together to bring a riverfront amphitheater to Grand Rapids.
On Friday morning, the CAA approved a memorandum of understanding with Grand Action 2.0 for the amphitheater project, similar to previous agreements involving the Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place Convention Center and Downtown Market.
According to the agreement, Grand Action 2.0 will work on developing, assisting and raising funds for the project and the CAA will handle events and operations of the venue when it’s complete. The memorandum of understanding also creates a construction and building committee that’ll consist of representatives from the CAA and Grand Action 2.0 and recognizes that contracts Grand Action 2.0 enters into will eventually be signed over to the CAA.
One CAA member called it a “very important step in the amphitheater project.”
“It’s an exciting next step in the project. Certainly these are two very important entities that have to work together to see this project through to fruition. And this is just one formal step that we needed to take to move forward,” Kara Wood, executive director of Grand Action 2.0, said.
Wood said the next steps include continuing to work toward an acquisition agreement between the city and CAA for 11.6 acres of the 15.8-acre property where the amphitheater will sit. That property, labeled 201 Market, currently belongs to the city of Grand Rapids, which has been trying to redevelop it for 15 years.
The total cost of the amphitheater has been set at $116 million. About $81 million of that is expected to come from donor, state and private investments and the rest from a mix of Convention/Arena Authority property sales, bonds and Downtown Development Authority revenue.
Wood expects stakeholders to complete a proof of concept for the amphitheater this month, which will pave the way for the design phase of the project. However, she said they’ve “got a lot of pieces to work on” before a construction date can be set.
“Every step is a good step because they’re all going forward. That being said, there’s an awful lot of steps to get there. So I’m going to hold off my enthusiasm until we actually host that first event. And hopefully, the way it looks right now, that’s probably going to be the start of the season in 2025,” Rich MacKeigan, regional general manager for ASM Global in Grand Rapids, said.
ASM Global manages events at Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place Convention Center. Under the current vision, the CAA would contract ASM Global to manage events at the amphitheater, too.
MacKeigan expects the amphitheater to attract “the A-list of what’s touring during the outdoor concert season,” with a goal of having sold-out shows with roughly 12,000 people in attendance, similar to the concert capacity for the Van Andel Arena.
MacKeigan said ASM Global has “been in a lot of conversations” with major promoters of outdoor concert series who have told them they will need a capacity of more than 10,000 people for it to make sense to bring top acts to Grand Rapids. He hopes to attract artists whose outdoor tours typically include stops at Pine Knob and amphitheaters in Columbus, Ohio, Chicago and Nashville.
“We’re trying to create a very, very unique experience right on the river, and I think time will show that people will absolutely want to be there. It’s going to be a gorgeous environment, it’s going to be a gorgeous location and it’s going to still be within the city and all of the positive vibe that the city currently has,” MacKeigan said.
He said when the amphitheater is fully operational, they’re forecasting it’ll host 30 to 40 major events with the potential for 30 to 40 smaller community events as well.
While it’s too early to tell how much money the amphitheater alone could inject into the local economy, the entire riverfront development is expected to have a more than $500 million impact.
“So it’s a pretty significant step forward for our community,” MacKeigan said.