GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Gold president Steve Jbara called it “the worst kept secret” in the city.
Word broke Thursday that the team signed a five-year deal with stadium management to make Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids its new home.
It was not a surprise. When the DeltaPlex in Walker announced it was going to close its doors this summer, the Gold, an NBA G League team affiliated with the Denver Nuggets, didn’t have many options for a new venue. The team wanted someplace that could sit 6,000 for as many as 24 home games and where it could sell beer. Van Andel was the only place the fit the bill.
There hasn’t been professional basketball at Van Andel since the Grand Rapids Hoops, a Continental Basketball Association team, played there. The Hoops later moved to the DeltaPlex when attendance sagged before the CBA disbanded.
Jbara said getting downtown has been a goal for a long time and he’s excited to finally make the move.
“We love the access to downtown and people and events and excitement,” Jbara said. “I think it just adds so much credibility to what we’re doing. And it’s a landmark piece for us to show that we’re committed to Grand Rapids and that we’re going to be here and that’s good for our fan base.”
He said he doesn’t anticipate having to raise the prices of tickets. The team is also prepared to manage scheduling challenges, as Van Andel also hosts the Grand Rapids Griffins in addition to other concerts and events.
“Scheduling problems are good problems to have. That means your downtown is busy,” said Richard MacKeigan, the regional general manager for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. “People forget we used to have three sports teams. We used to have the Griffins, the Grand Rapids Hoops and the Grand Rapids Rampage. We’ve done it before, we know how to do it, we’ll be able to do it again and I have a high level of confidence that both the Griffins and the Gold will be very successful playing at Van Andel Arena.”
MacKeigan anticipated the Gold’s arrival to positively impact the economics of downtown while providing more part-time jobs for the arena.