GRBJ: Minor-league sports thriving in Grand Rapids

Dan Harland tells us about the minor league sports teams in West Michigan, and some of the successes and struggles they're dealing with.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Grand Rapids is establishing its presence in minor-league sports circles.

Discussions about the success might lead to potential major-league talk, but Grand Rapids might be best to stay a minor-league city, said Tim Gortsema, president of the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“West Michigan is big enough to support multiple franchises,” Gortsema said of the success of the Griffins, basketball’s Grand Rapids Drive, baseball’s West Michigan Whitecaps and soccer’s Grand Rapids Football Club. “As a family guy myself, I don’t think it’s a huge deal to a kid if they go to a Griffins game or a (Detroit) Red Wings game.

“Grand Rapids and West Michigan, it’s fiscally conservative, and we have the best of all worlds. You have the full spectrum of sports and at family-friendly prices.”

To jump up to a major-league sport, Gortsema said the region would need to significantly invest in new and larger facilities, along with garnering an uptick in sponsorship support and attendance figures.

Balancing the likely increase in ticket prices and the “fiscally conservative” but “rabid” fan base also could get tricky.

Gortsema isn’t surprised the teams currently calling Grand Rapids home have solid attendance figures, including the Griffins and the Drive, both of which now are entering their seasons.

To read the full story visit, the Grand Rapids Business Journal's website or pick up a copy of this week's paper.

© 2016 Grand Rapids Business Journal


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