A West Michigan arena is changing.
Muskegon-based L.C. Walker Arena, at 955 4th St., is going through a two-phase makeover estimated to cost $4 million.
The first phase of the renovation started in June, and a public tour of the upgraded facility was held in October.
The arena is owned and managed by the City of Muskegon, according to City Manager Frank Peterson.
The cost of the first phase was $1 million and funded by the Downtown Development Authority and the city’s Public Improvement Fund. The DDA invested $750,000 and the fund provided $250,000 for the project, according to Peterson.
Peterson said phase two is estimated to cost about $3 million. The second phase has not been started but has an anticipated completion date of mid-2019.
It is expected to be partly funded by the DDA and partly by private investment, such as restaurant owners that will lease space within the arena.
The architect of the project is Detroit-based Rossetti. Peterson said there is no general contractor, but the are a number of subcontractors on the project: Coastal Innovations, Chet's Electric, Hazel Interiors, Hurst Mechanical, Midwest Coating, GCS Professional, EMC Welding and Sellinger Concrete. There are no banks involved.
“We are looking to create an environment where people want to spend time and have fun, regardless of whether an event is happening or not,” Peterson said. “We're trying to make that arena the center of fun for sports fans and non-sports fans alike. And we think the changes will make the venue inviting for everybody. If we were only marketing to hockey fans, then we have a pretty finite group of potential visitors. But taking the arena and trying to market it to everybody greatly increased our opportunity.”
The arena has a seating capacity of 3,500, which is about 1,500 less than before the renovations.
Peterson said seats were removed and replaced with party decks, beer gardens and other places where people can socialize outside of traditional seats. He said the seating capacity is expected to remain the same after the entire renovation project is completed.
The renovations also include new ice controls, wide-angle glass around the playing surface, paint throughout the arena, party decks, suites, club seating, loge seating, furniture, flooring, upgraded concession stands and kitchen equipment.
The second phase of the project will include new restrooms, restaurants, roofs, entryways, HVAC systems and a sports bar.
The arena is used by the Muskegon Lumberjacks, Reeths-Puffer High School varsity hockey, Muskegon Junior Lumberjacks, Norton Shores Parks & Recreation hockey, West Michigan Ironmen indoor football team, Muskegon Risers indoor soccer team, Peak Performance Center and Mercy Health Rehabilitation Center.
It is also used for concerts, graduations, job fairs and other occasions.