SMG eyes upgrades for venues


Upgrades costing an estimated $4.56 million have been proposed for DeVos Place, DeVos Performance Hall and Van Andel Arena in 2020.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority board will vote in June to approve the capital list, which may change in the meantime, according to Chris Machuta, assistant general manager for SMG, which manages the three venues.

The major piece of upcoming plans includes upgrades to the DeVos Performance Hall’s fly rail system, the stage’s overhead rigging system that allows productions to lower set pieces onto the stage.

The current system is original to the building and consists of 35 pipes extending across the stage, spaced apart equally from back to front.

The system is no longer considered the industry standard, Machuta said, and limits the level and efficiency of rigging activity that can happen during productions.

He added that many of the large touring productions, particularly those booked through Broadway Grand Rapids, will be much happier with an updated system.

Estimated at $1.7 million in total, the first year of the project would include engineering and design for the new system, with installation happening the next year or two.

SMG also would like to repaint the structural beams that jut out from either side of the arena’s roof because they are showing signs of rust. To do so, the beams would have to be removed, painted and then reattached, a project estimated at $1 million, Machuta said.

Especially because it would have to be redone about every decade, SMG is considering less expensive maintenance options, such as removing the overhanging portion of the beams altogether, though Machuta said that may cause the building to appear unfinished.

Other DeVos Place projects include a new theater projection system, new carpet, new LED lighting and continued Lyon Street landscaping. Other 2020 arena projects include continuing the $2-million locker room upgrades and continuing a refresh of the suites.

Outlined for consideration the following year, SMG plans to replace the arena’s center ice scoreboard for an estimated $2 million and the ice plant refrigeration for an estimated $1 million, among other projects. DeVos Place marquee upgrades also are being considered for 2021, for an estimated $1.2 million.

SMG is considering numerous general maintenance projects to multiple systems and building features at the facilities in the next 20 years, including upgrades to the roof and theater seating at DeVos Place and upgrades to scoreboards and HVAC systems in the arena.

These plans are in addition to several projects started and some completed in the 2019 fiscal year, including installing LED lighting in various locations throughout the venues, as well as new restrooms in DeVos Place and a new roof on the arena.

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