Grand Rapids’ Grand Venue

Officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., are looking into a $20 million to $30 million amphitheatre with 5,000 to 6,000 covered seats and a lawn area with 6,000 to 7,000 capacity.

According to the Grand Rapids Press, the proposed venue is being compared to the 15,202-capacity DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Mich.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and Grand Action, a nonprofit group that helped develop and raise funds for the Van Andel Arena and the DeVos Place convention center, are developing the project.

The venue would be located within the city of Grand Rapids along Butterworth Drive, because of its proximity to downtown and easy accessibility from the Wealthy Street exit off U.S. 131.

"We wanted it to be as close as possible to downtown and we were also deeply concerned about neighbors," The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority Chairman Steve Heacock said, according to the Press.

The paper noted that the proposed site is near few residents and buffered by woods, topography and extensive park and industrial land.

The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and Grand Action plan to conduct a national search for an architect who could create a "landmark quality structure" with an environmentally friendly design.

The future of the proposed venue depends on how much the state is willing to allocate for funding the venue.

The project’s developers hope that lawmakers in Lansing will pitch in a $10 million outlay and that private donors and possibly bond funds will make up the costs not covered by the state.

According to the paper, Gov. Jennifer Granholm isn’t very supportive of the project, said Leslee Fritz, a spokeswoman for the State Budget Office.

"There’s just not a lot of money to go around right now."

Rep. Robert Dean said an initial request for $15 million was scaled down to $10 million before the Legislature broke for a two-week recess.

Dean said that about $10 million had been set aside, but the paper noted that the money is part of negotiations that also includes proposed funding for John Ball Zoo, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Public Museum of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College.

According to the paper, Grand Action co-chairman David Frey said Grand Action hopes to know by May how much, if any, funding Lansing is willing to give toward the venue project.