DeVos Place turns a healthy shade of black


DeVos Place convention center features a 162,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 40,000-square-foot ballroom and 26 meeting rooms totaling 32,000 square feet.

A black outcome like this doesn’t get much brighter, at least at this point in time.

After more than $5.2 million worth of operational losses for DeVos Place over the past nine fiscal years, members of the Convention and Arena Authority were officially informed last week the convention center recorded an operating surplus for the first time since it opened in FY04.

“It’s rare that facilities like this operate in the black. We are in a unique position, and have been for the past four or five years at DeVos Place,” said SMG Regional Manager Rich MacKeigan.

The preliminary and unaudited figures show DeVos Place registered a surplus of $95,725.

SMG Director of Finance Chris Machuta called the building’s overall revenue and bottom line “historical highs.”

DeVos Place earned nearly $5.86 million in operating revenue from July 1 through June 30, with $5.56 million of the take coming from event income.

Revenue from conventions and trade shows were worth $2.1 million to the building, likely the first time that figure topped $2 million, while the stage at DeVos Performance Hall brought $1.1 million to the income side of the ledger. Those two sources accounted for roughly 57 percent of the building’s event income, with the meeting industry generating 37 percent of the total by itself. Consumer shows did well, too, drawing 20 percent of all the event income with slightly more than $1 million.

The building’s total expenses were $5.76 million, higher than the projected $5.4 million, which emphasizes the role revenue played in the bottom line this past fiscal year.

DeVos Place had 513 event days that drew 586,619 individuals through the building’s turnstiles. Both numbers were up from last year.

Van Andel Arena also had a banner year, posting a surplus of $1.6 million, or $551,820 more than last year’s final tally of $891,000. Total revenue at the arena reached $5.4 million, while total expenses finished under $3.8 million.

The arena’s event income was $3.3 million, with 20 concerts delivering nearly $1.78 million or 53 percent of that total. Event revenue from Grand Rapids Griffins games was strong, too, at $698,700. The AHL franchise played more home games this season than last year on its way to capturing its first Calder Cup.

Van Andel hosted 121 events for the year attended by 664,254 ticket holders, up from 101 and 521,909, respectively, last year.

As for the CAA’s year-end financial picture, when the SMG management fees are added to the DeVos Place expense sheet, the convention center shows an operational loss of $150,687. But when the parking revenue from the building’s ramp is included, DeVos Place adds $582,132 to the board’s bottom line.

“I frankly never thought I’d see that number,” said CAA Chairman Steven Heacock.

“We continue to find ways to do business the right way,” added MacKeigan.

The financial success of both buildings in FY13 left the CAA with an operational surplus of just under $1.9 million, more than $1 million above last year’s outcome.

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