WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — The DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center in Walker has announced it will be permanently closing its doors this summer.
In a Wednesday memo, DeltaPlex President Joel Langlois announced the arena would shut down July 31.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, The DeltaPlex was mandated to shut down over 16 months, which Langlois said “created an extraordinary hardship.”
“Even though the past few years have been challenging,” he wrote, “the decision to close has been difficult.”
Langlois said he is closing the arena due to both the hardships of the pandemic and his own personal “time to move on to the next chapter,” he wrote in the memo.
Once known as Stadium Arena when it was built in 1952, generations of people in West Michigan have enjoyed sporting events, concerts, expos and shows inside.
It’s unclear what the site will be used for but there are a lot of options. Gary Carey, the mayor of Walker, expects the site to be an important part of the community whatever happens.
“There’s been a lot of neat things that have happened over the years so we’re excited for that next evolution, whatever that may be,” Carey said. “It’s a little bittersweet because … if it doesn’t stay an event venue obviously that is going to have to go elsewhere in the community. The good news is that we have a lot of capacity in the area and the region to be able to do that.”
Based on county and state records, DEG Development Co LLC, which is registered to the Visser Brothers, bought the DeltaPlex on Dec. 23, 2021 for $5.5 million. They’re contractors who have worked on everything from restaurants to parks to medical buildings.
Carey says he recognizes the investment the seller has put into the space over the years.
“The pandemic really took its toll financially on the operations of it,” he said.
Carey is confident the site will be in good hands and said the city is very familiar with the company, which has many projects in the area.
“The city knows how they operate. We know how they operate and we’re just excited that somebody that’s a trusted business partner of the city is going to be the new owners of that,” he said.
News 8 reached out the Visser Brothers for more information about the company’s plan and has not heard back.
For the last eight years, the arena has been home to the Grand Rapids Gold, formerly known as the Drive, an NBA G League team now affiliated with the Denver Nuggets. The Gold’s 2021-2022 season has already ended.
The team’s owner said it was already notified on the sale and is close to announcing where the team will play next season.
“The key is we’re not going anywhere and we’re very optimistic about our announcements. Give us about a week and I think we’ll bring a lot of excitement with it. I think everybody will be happy and not that surprised when they hear what’s going on,” Gold owner Steve Jbara said.
Jbara said the Gold was grateful for its seven years at the DeltaPlex and to Langlois.
“We enjoyed some truly special moments there with our players, our staff, and our fans,” Jbara said. “For a team that was just starting off it was a really good venue for us. It was a low-risk spot for us while we were trying to get our feet under us and figure out if there was the appetite in GR for basketball.”
The DeltaPlex currently has events scheduled until July 9, including the Michigan Golden Gloves tournament and a Wiz Khalifa concert.
—News 8 digital executive producer Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.