For Immediate Release: June 4, 2021
Contact: Hilarie Carpenter, 616-742-6397, firstname.lastname@example.org
STEVE HEACOCK TO STEP DOWN FROM THE CAA JUNE 30
Grand Rapids - The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) recently announced that Chairman Steve Heacock will step down from the CAA at the conclusion of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2021. Steve has served on the CAA, the seven-member board that oversees DeVos Place, DeVos Performance Hall and Van Andel Arena, since it was established in 2000, including 18 years as Chairman. Under Steve’s leadership, the facilities have experienced growth, expansion and improvements, and have prepared for reopening following closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A tireless advocate for economic growth, Steve’s forward-thinking mentality has proven crucial to the success of the venues during his tenure as CAA Chairman. His foresight to invest in facility improvements has allowed Grand Rapids to remain competitive in the international events industry, becoming a must-play destination for major touring acts and a top contender for national conventions. While the venues have enjoyed continued success, Heacock has continuously looked toward future opportunities to maintain the international recognition that Grand Rapids has earned throughout the industry, including working with Grand Action 2.0 to study the potential for the development of an amphitheater.
“It has been a great honor to serve as CAA Chairman,” said Heacock. “I hope that the work that I have done will have as much of a lasting impact on the West Michigan community as the community has had on me. It means so much to me to have been a part of the important efforts of the CAA to encourage economic growth and development. I know that the CAA will continue to work toward bringing events to Grand Rapids that, in turn, bring business to surrounding hotels, restaurants and others throughout West Michigan.”
In Fiscal Year 2019, the most recent full fiscal year before the pandemic, Van Andel Arena hosted a record 42 concerts, which contributed to the best ever combined fiscal performance for Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall. Fiscal Year 2020 was on track to become the most successful year in history for the venues before the COVID-19 pandemic forced their closures. Events at the facilities in Fiscal Year 2019 brought 1.5 million visitors to Grand Rapids, helping to support restaurants, hotels and other establishments throughout Kent County and beyond.
Heacock advocated for the expansion of the former Grand Center into what is now DeVos Place convention center. Completed in 2005, its expansive 162,000 square foot Exhibit Hall, 40,000 square foot Ballroom and 26 meeting rooms have allowed DeVos Place to host large scale national and regional conventions and tradeshows, as well as numerous banquets, meetings and other events. Steve has encouraged the CAA to continue looking toward future growth by initiating studies surrounding expansion of the convention center and a new convention hotel.
Under Steve’s guidance, Van Andel Arena has also experienced upgrades throughout its nearly 25-year history. Just this past year, the CAA partnered with Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. on a newly renovated Van Andel Arena plaza to create public seating areas, incorporate trees and planters to green the plaza, and enhance the safety of patrons and pedestrians. Backstage renovations were completed in early 2020 to enhance the experience of the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team and touring productions such as major concert tours and family shows. These improvements included updates to the locker rooms and dressing rooms, and the creation of the West Lounge, a modern banquet space. Additional upgrades to Van Andel Arena throughout the years include a concourse expansion, new upper bowl seats, installation of an LED ribbon board and videoboard, upgraded electronic marquee, enhanced security system, security screening equipment and more.
Major upgrades have also been made to DeVos Performance Hall under Steve’s leadership to accommodate major touring productions such as Hamilton and Disney’s The Lion King. Most recently, the original fly rail and theatrical rigging system was replaced, new restrooms were constructed and existing restrooms were remodeled. Additionally, a new sound system was installed, the stage was upgraded to allow for larger productions, the theater seats were refurbished, a telecoil hearing loop system was installed for the hearing impaired and the lobby was expanded and renovated.
A champion for Diversity and Inclusion, Heacock formed the CAA’s Community Inclusion Group (CIG) task force comprised of local community leaders in 2005, and prioritized funding toward the CIG’s efforts to make DeVos Place, Van Andel Arena and DeVos Performance Hall West Michigan’s premier multicultural enjoyment and entertainment venues welcoming all. The CIG successfully launched the “Serie Latina” Latinx Entertainment Series and “The Series: Creative Expressions of African American Culture” in 2018. The CIG continues to guide the venues in increasing community access and awareness, attracting top level events and talent, and fostering inclusive staff and supplier development and engagement.
As the venues navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, Steve and the CAA have worked closely with venue manager ASM Global to prepare to welcome guests through their doors, securing nearly $2 million in CARES Act funding granted by Kent County to implement safety measures aligned with ASM Global’s VenueShield environmental hygiene program. Enhancements to the facilities as a result of the CARES grant include upgraded air purification with bipolar ionization equipment, installation of touchless fixtures and equipment to facilitate contactless transactions, cleaning and sanitation equipment, social distancing barriers and personal protective equipment. Furthering community efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19, the CAA worked with ASM Global and Kent County to host the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place, in partnership with Spectrum Health, Mercy Health St. Mary’s and Vaccinate West Michigan.
“The continued success of the venues would not have been possible without Steve’s tremendous leadership,” said Richard MacKeigan, ASM Global Regional General Manager. “Steve’s efforts have ensured that the West Michigan community will benefit from these world-class facilities for years to come, and his work toward future development has set the stage for ongoing exploration of growth opportunities.”
In addition to his role with the CAA, Heacock serves as President and CEO of Grand Rapids Whitewater. Throughout his career, Steve has held leadership roles with several organizations, including Spectrum Health, Van Andel Institute and Warner Norcross + Judd. He served three two-year terms with the Kent County Commission, including Chair and Vice-Chair positions.
About the CAA
The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA) is the seven-member board that administers DeVos Place, DeVos Performance Hall and Van Andel Arena. The CAA was established on March 29, 2000 by the City of Grand Rapids and County of Kent under the Convention Facility Authority Act, Act 203 of the Public Acts of Michigan of 1999. The CAA’s mission is to encourage economic development within the West Michigan region, create jobs, and provide facilities for the entertainment, enjoyment, and/or benefit of the citizens in an economical manner by developing and operating convention, entertainment, and sports facilities within Kent County.