GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A major development for Grand Rapids is one step closer to reality.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority has signed an agreement to reimburse Grand Action 2.0, the private group behind Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place for work on the planned 12,000-seat amphitheater downtown.

The agreement between Grand Action 2.0 and the CAA is just the latest step in a long process.

“All of that continues to move forward in a very good way. Yes, this was a required step. But just one of many that has to happen before we’ve got concerts at the new amphitheater,” said Rich MacKeigan, Executive Director of CAA and Regional General Manager for ASM Global, which manages Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. 

The latest agreement, approved last week by the authority, is more or less a formality. Make that a $30 million formality — that’s the amount of state money approved last year for the project.

“What was authorized on Friday was a legal technicality that the CAA would enter into a contract with Grand Action so that we could transfer funds as expenses come in,” said MacKeigan.

The amphitheater will sit on the north end of the property currently owned by the city of Grand Rapids and home to a number of city services, including public works.

The city optioned the riverfront site land, which has been targeted for redevelopment for decades, to the CAA last year. That option is up in June.

MacKeigan is confident the sale will be finalized. 

The amphitheater would anchor a larger development along a 30-acre section of the Grand River along Market Street.

“The amphitheater is the first domino to fall for the entire development for a soon-to-be-revitalized river,” said MacKeigan. “I think people are going to be looking at that as an absolute game changer for the community for the next 50 years. I really do believe that.”

Among the hoops that still have to be jumped through is the purchase of the current Kent County Road Commission site on Scribner Avenue NW so the city can move much of what happens at 201 Market Avenue to the Scribner site.

The road commission is building a new facility in Walker.

Funding for the Scribner purchase is included in the budget Grand Rapids city commissioners are expected to vote on later this month.

“I think there’s still a few more dollars to be figured out. I think there’s still a few more design elements that need to be figured out. But I think those are days, if not weeks away from happening. I feel very very comfortable and confident with the progress that’s been made so far,” said MacKeigan.

After that, the site needs to be cleared. MacKeigan is hoping work to clear the Market Street site can begin by the end of the year.

“Shovels in the ground start a real timeline. A real ticking clock in terms of getting things up and booked,” said MacKeigan. “I would say the level of confidence for me is easy to achieve because I look at the success of the procedures that went through for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place.”

MacKeigan said he’s hoping the first concert takes the stage at the Amphitheater sometime in 2026.