Van Andel Arena set to reopen with COVID-19 precautions

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The welcome back sign is turning back on at Van Andel Arena.

For the first time since March of 2020, fans will fill Van Andel Arena a week from Saturday when the Professional Bull Riders tour comes to town.

“We’re excited to show off some of those things that patrons are going to experience firsthand,” said Eddie Tadlock, assistant general manager for ASM Global, which manages both Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place for the Convention Arena Authority.

Many of the new procedures are designed to keep contact with Van Andel personnel to a minimum.

A no bag policy will reduce security screening; there will be exception for medical bags and small clutches.

And there won’t be ticket takers.

“So basically, you have an electronic ticket, and you scan it, and it opens up the turnstile and you walk in,” Tadlock said.

Touchless concession stands will not just cut down on contact, they’ll help fans avoid missing part of the act or a good play.

“So, you can basically order your food from a mobile app, pay for it and you’ll get an alert when your food is ready, so you can pick it up. So, you don’t have to stand in line,” Tadlock said.

As for masks, proof of vaccination and other requirements, that’s left up to individual acts, promoters and others behind the events.

Van Andel doesn’t set those polices, even though they usually get the blame.

“Exactly, (they think) we’re the bad guys,” Tadlock said.

“(Patrons ask) ‘Well, how come I’ve got to wear a mask?’ ‘(We respond) The show says you must wear a mask,’” Tadlock added.

There are other improvements.

The plaza outside received a major facelift. New cleaning protocols are in place and a high-tech ventilation system has been installed that scrubs the air inside.

The changes are among the few advantages bought on by the pandemic shutdown.

In a way, Van Andel Arena, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in the fall, has been a victim of its own success over the years. With such a tight schedule, it’s tough to get things fixed up.

“We’re fortunate in that when we were shut down, we had time to do it because before, you couldn’t carve out six weeks to kind of replace all the things and have it shut down,” Tadlock said.

So now, the weight room has been pumped up, the locker rooms have been revamped and the stars’ dressing room got a makeover.

And while Van Andel management has contingencies ready as virus concerns grow, Tadlock thinks the benefits of the reopening may also bring a sense or normal back to the community.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting for the community to see people standing out front in line waiting to get into a show,” Tadlock said.

You can find more information on arena policies, as well as rules set by performers and event organizers by visiting Van Andel Arena’s website.

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