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Riverfront Amphitheater Proposed for Grand Rapids Downtown Area
Grand Rapids Amphitheater Artist Rendering (Image: Grand Rapids City Council)

Riverfront Amphitheater Proposed for Grand Rapids Downtown Area

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI (CelebrityAccess) – A proposed 116 million dollar riverfront amphitheater project is being presented for downtown Grand Rapids. The proposal to build a new amphitheater is tied to mixed-use development, reflecting the same business model sports teams use to build arenas and stadiums across the country, via VenuesNow.

Rossetti, a sports architect with experience renovating Pine Knob and Meadow Brook amphitheaters, is in the concept design phase, which should be completed by early September for a 12,000-capacity outdoor music venue, company officials said. The proposed 12,000-seat amphitheater would be located at 201 Market Avenue, SW is a piece of a larger vision for 31 acres of property along the Grand River between Fulton and Wealthy streets. In addition to the venue, officials want to build up to 1,750 apartments at the site.

“This is our Hudson Yards,” said David Frey, co-chair of Grand Action 2.0, the nonprofit economic development group spearheading the project. The organization spun off of Grand Vision, which is responsible for many of the city’s major developments, starting with Van Andel Arena, a Rossetti project which opened in 1996.

Van Andel Arena alone has proved its value for Grand Rapids. Over the past 26 years, the 12,000-plus seat arena, run by ASM Global and before that SMG, has sold 5.2 million tickets from 734 concerts and family shows, according to VenuesNow. The building historically ranks among the busiest indoor venues of its size in North America.

ASM Global runs the performing arts center and convention center as well as the arena. The current plan calls for an amendment to the company’s contract that extends to operating the amphitheater, said Rich MacKeigan, ASM Global’s regional general manager. MacKeigan has run Van Andel Arena for 24 years.

“The amphitheater is the sexy piece, but it’s just the first domino for a major development for downtown,” MacKeigan said.

Live Nation could potentially invest in the amphitheater and have a role in running the Meijer Gardens Amphitheater, Frey said. The 1,900-capacity venue is owned by a local nonprofit. If all goes as planned, the new amphitheater would open for the 2024 summer concert season, Rossetti said.

The amphitheater, facing south, will feature 7,000 fixed seats and a 5,000-capacity lawn. Blueprints call for 16 different premium products between suites and opera boxes, which would connect to retail and other entertainment spaces activated outside the facility. A parking garage would sit beneath the elevated lawn section. The west side, which faces the Grand River, would provide views of the city’s downtown district.

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